SUMMER 2021 VOLUME 1 NO 4 ISSN 2635-0564
SHREWSBURY SEVERN TUNNEL JUNCTION SIGNAL BO
BRISTOL TEMPLE MEADS REVAMPED
PUBLIC TRANSPORT ON HERITAGE RAILWAYS
THE BLACK BRIDGE LIFTED OUT OF THE WATER
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THE ESSENCE OF SWINDON
Summer 2021 Volume 1 No 4 Publisher & Editor: Rodney Pitt Great Western Star is published by Technical Publishing & PR Services Ltd, 1 Queen Drive, Newport, Shropshire TF10 7EU Tel: 07828 500794 email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.greatwesternstar.com See us on Facebook and Instagram
News from Around the Great Western Region
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HST donated to the National Railway Museum Tratos Wins a 5-year Cable Supply Framework Contract Grand Railway Collaboration appoints Lucy Wootton as new leader New Thoughts on Cardiff Crossrail An Underwater Rail line from China to the USA Carbis Bay Station Sign Returned to Former Glory Midlands Engine Rail Swansea railway station refurbished Manchester Piccadilly escalator trials virus busting technology Innovative railway footbridge design is unveiled Birmingham Brick Victorian Viaducts Get Railway Revamp Edwardian era station improved for 21st century Chiltern passengers Renew acquires Scotland-based Rail Electrification tpgroup Powers the UK’s First Full-Scale Hydrogen Train Last Pacer leaves TfW Brand new trains off the production line in Newport Relaunch heralds bright new future for National College The Brunel Bridge is now threatened Threat to Brunel Bridge is “cultural vandalism” Questions for the Transport Select Committee Yorkshire engineering expertise to boost railway infrastructure The Tale of Llandinam Football Club and the Forden rail crash of 1904 Porterbrook adds Long Marston Rail Innovation Centre to its portfolio Eversholt Rail unveils new Class 321 Swift Express Freight train Talgo launch legal action after losing out on a contract for HS2 A New Age of Aquarius! Pledge Over Rail Work Disruption GBRf & MSC UK drive sustainability with new 5-year rail deal Total Rail Solutions switches to Green Fuel University of Southampton wins funding for research to reduce the environmental impacts of rail travel Getech to Partner Eversholt in Hydrogen Infrastructure Chiltern Railways Testing a Hybrid Rolls Royce Engine Network Rail introduces composite railway sleepers at Sherrington Viaduct How About this as a Headache for the European Parcel Service! SWR and University of Portsmouth develop algorithm to reduce rail delays Nestlé’s Glass Train shifts more cargo from road to rail Rail revolution in Shropshire & Black Country could power up region Hydroshunter makes headway at Severn Valley Shrewsbury Severn Bridge Junction Signal Box Given a New Lease of Life after almost 120 years A Voice from the Signal Box (March 1874) or, Railway Accidents and Their Causes. Part One by A Signalman Talking to the Old Hands. Part 2 Adrian Vaughan Is there a Standard Gauge Today? John Page
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Work Continues on South Wales Metro 43 Missing Main Lines 44 Solent to Midlands Multimodal Freight Strategy 46 Pandrol Advanced Welding 47 Network Rail using innovative fibre-optic technology 48 Speed and Power of the Locomotive 49 Railway Intelligence - The Broad Gauge 52 The Black Bridge and its Place in Welsh Railway History 54 Class 66 locomotive named 61 The Carriage of Fruit by the GWR/BR(Western) 62 National Strategy to Boost Accessibility for Disabled Passengers – A Start at Reading 64 Bristol Temple Meads Given a New Lease of Life! 66 Major track upgrade completed at Bristol East Junction 72 Brunel’s First Railway Journey? Tim Bryan 73 Work Continues to Link the Metro Control Centre to the Rail Network 74
Railway News from Around the Preservation Scene
Coal for Heritage Steam Public Transport on Heritage Railways The New Counties David Bradshaw Initial bio-coal trials show promise as HRA member railway takes the lead Not Your Average Tyre Change!! Successful Charter for the WSR Art Exhibition by Local Artist on GWSR Blaenavon’s Heritage Railway Joins National “Love Your Railway” Campaign Restoration of GWR locomotive 4110 Steve Masters A Night Owl Emerges from the Dark - Part 4 Paul Perton Model Railway Engines and Items for Sale Telford Steam Railway hosts 250 passengers on restored Growler locomotive 4709 moves again Wallingford at War - 2nd & 3rd October Diesel Days – Saturdays 11th, 18th and 25th September Somerset & Dorset Railway at Midsomer Norton Celebrating one year of ‘We are Railfans’ Thirty Years of Class 50 Preservation – A Remarkable Story Jonathan Dunster The 2874 Restoration Journey So Far (restoring ex GWR 28xx no 2874) David Holmes Major £6m scheme to revamp Gloucester railway station begins
The World of GWR Modelling
News from the World of GWR Modelling Hornby’s new P2 models What about weathering?116 DCCconcepts Ultimate Turnout Control Pack The Essence of Swindon Mark Wilson A Visit to Tunnel Close Clive Burchell
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Welcome to the fourth issue of Great Western Star. Once again, we have a truly varied range of articles in 134 pages of copy. My thanks to all who have contributed - please keep them coming because after all, it is YOUR magazine. The enthusiasm by modellers who have never written an article about their model railway is truly amazing.The authors of the two layouts featured in this issue are very different and their layouts are equally different but both show just how diverse our interest in the hobby really is. The Essence of Swindon is a diorama concnetrating on a very special part of the history of the Great Western. I am sure that, as it did for me having made many visits to Swindon Works in the late 1950s, it evoked many memories of a time now, sadly, long gone. I would love to hear readers’ comments and make no apologies for including so many photos of this very interesting layout. In contrast, Clive Burchell’s N Gauge layout portrays a very busy country railway with many excellent working models, many built by his wife, as the fair is in town The All Party Parliamentary Group has recently issued a very thought provoking report on the state and future of our Heritage Railways. Time after time, these valuable parts of not just our railway history but also our social history have come under different forms of attack, not least the present environmental threat to our supply of steam coal. It is for these reasons that I have featured the report in full (minus one Table) as I believe that it should be made widely available to all members of the railway preservation movement. Again, I would welcome your comments. Network Rail has been frequently criticised over the years for not always getting things right. However, three contrasting stories in this issue show just what a great job they do when they get it right! The manual - yes, MANUAL - lifting of the Black Bridge, the restoration of the World’s largest mechanical signal box and the investment in the very important Bristol Temple Meads station show a great respect for our Great Western Heritage.. Long may it continue! Don’t forget our Website - www.greatwesternstar.com. We are adding new videos and our Railway terminus section provides a constantly updated coverage of news, not just GWR but also a wider range of stories, sometimes from outside the UK, depending upon its topicality. We hope you enjoy your read and we look forward to receiving your comments. Please feel free to send in any stories or articles - we are always happy to receive them. From this issue onwards, you will only be able to read each very interesting magazine if you subscribe. This can be simply done by going to our website and completing the form. Don’t miss out on this key record of all things Great Western - after all, where else can you read in one place about the history of the railway that we all love, the work that is continuing to preserve that history and heritage and how it is being replicated in model form. Happy reading and do get in touch - after all, it’s YOUR magazine! Rodney Pitt, Editor
RAILWAY NEWS FROM AROUND THE GREAT WESTERN REGION contribute to cleaner and environmentally friendly ways of keeping the worlds mass transit industries moving. I would like, once again, to commend the particularly enlightened thinking of Network Rail in providing this opportunity to an innovation-led manufacturing engineering company like Tratos. The products to be supplied to Network Rail will be manufactured and stocked at Tratos’ Knowsley facility in Merseyside, a site that we have recently invested upward of £25 million, an investment including a technologically advanced cable testing facility which will be used in servicing the Network Rail contract over the next five years.
A Recent Contract
HST donated to National Railway Museum Porterbrook, the rolling stock owner and asset manager, has announced the donation of record breaking HST power car 43102 to the National Railway Museum. In 1987 the power car broke the world speed record for a diesel-powered train, reaching 148.5mph between Northallerton and York. Decommissioned after 39 years’ frontline service it will find a new home at Locomotion in Shildon, County Durham. The donation builds on Porterbrook’s ‘Gold’ partnership with the National Railway Museum which will see both organisations focus on inspiring the next generation of young engineers, as well as showcasing how the railway can become more accessible and sustainable. Mary Grant, Chief Executive Officer of Porterbrook, said: “While we are firmly focused on investing in the future of Britain’s railway, our partnership with the National Railway Museum shows that we also celebrate its successful past. As long-term asset owners with a fleet of 4,000 rail vehicles we are pleased to support the NRM as it explores how the railway contribute to our national life. Our wider collaboration with the National Railway Museum will include joint work on inspiring the next generation of young engineers as well as highlighting how the railway can contribute to delivering Net Zero.” Judith McNicol, Director of The National Railway Museum, said: “The National Railway Museum is proud to have a strong and established relationship with Porterbrook, who have previously joined forces with us on projects such as Future Engineers, Rail Fest and the overhaul of Flying Scotsman.” “Porterbrook continue to work with us to engage our visitors, and in particular young people. Our combined passion and
resources ensure that we offer positive STEM experiences to bridge the skills gap with as many young people as possible. In the next phase of our relationship, we look forward to working with Porterbrook as a Gold level partner and continued collaboration to support the future of the UK rail industry.” Locomotion and the National Railway Museum reopened to visitors on 19 May, following temporary closure during the Covid-19 pandemic. The donated power car will be placed by the entrance of Locomotion. With its distinctive wedge-shaped design, created by Sir Kenneth Grange, the Class 43 HSTs, also known as 125s, have been a familiar sight on the UK rail network. The first units were introduced in 1976 and the train quickly became the backbone of high-speed rail routes. Power car No. 43102 carries the InterCity Swallow livery which was introduced in 1987. The power car will join the National Railway Museum’s collection of rail vehicles and will go on display at Locomotion for the public to enjoy. At Locomotion, the power car will join a collection of high-speed diesel vehicles such as the HST prototype power car No. 41001 and the English Electric DP1 ‘Deltic’.
Tratos Wins a 5-year Cable Supply Framework Contract The global technology company, which has been innovating in the rail sector for more than 50 years, was awarded the contract after meeting the stringent quality, technical and commercial requirements of one of the UK’s largest blue-chip organisations. Tratos CEO Dr Maurizio Bragagni said: “We are looking forward to working closely with Network Rail. We are unusual in the cable industry – in what we do, in the way we do it and in the way our company operates. We are in the business of solving problems, creating solutions which
In the largest project of its kind, Tratos has supplied more than 1,400,000 km of axle counter cable, low voltage signalling power and control cable to Thales GTS for its Transport for London/ London Underground Four Lines Modernisation (4LM) project. Tratos designed a range of fully compliant cables to meet all the required electrical, physical and fire safety code of practice demands without compromising the safety critical signalling and control systems. Its LSZH compounds, which were used for the insulation and outer sheath, had to comply with LU S1085 A4 (Fire safety materials code of practice) and the operational cable service life of 40 years. To deliver the benefits as early as possible, the network was divided into 14 ‘Migration Areas’ for a carefully phased rollout. The first five of these are centred on the Circle line and improvements went live at the end of 2019, bringing faster, more frequent trains to the travelling public years ahead of the completion date. 4LM is a project to increase capacity within London Underground and will upgrade the signalling systems of four of the most important railway lines: Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan which between them account for 40 percent of Underground traffic. Unique features of the project include five complex rail junctions, 113 stations and 191 trains, interfacing the system with four depots and the integration and presentation of existing trains and PA systems with a central control centre. Ageing infrastructure, in parts up to 150 years old, meant this was a challenging task that needed to be delivered quickly and accurately.
Grand Railway Collaboration appoints Lucy Wootton as new leader A West Midlands-based rail industry group committed to improving customer
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service has appointed a new leader to help evolve and deliver improvements for passengers. The Grand Railway Collaboration (GRC), which represents train operators, Network Rail’s Central route, the West Midlands Rail Executive (WMRE) and Transport Focus, has appointed Lucy Wootton as its new head. Lucy, a rail professional with more than 12 years’ experience, was the regional manager (London), for Chiltern Railways, and has joined the GRC on an 18-month secondment. She will work directly with the GRC chair, Alex Warner, to progress plans to improve customer service and satisfaction as well as meeting the challenge of recovering from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Lucy Wootton said: “This is an exciting opportunity to work with the rail industry to really improve the passenger experience across the network. I want the GRC to set the standard for customer service and for how train operators and Network Rail work together to really deliver for passengers and the communities we serve.” Sir Peter Hendy, chair of Network Rail, said: “Network Rail is focused on putting passengers first. The Grand Rail Collaboration fits perfectly with this, and I know, with Lucy’s support, it will have a positive impact on attracting passengers back and improving customer service as we emerge from lockdown.” Alex Warner, chair of the Grand Railway Collaboration, commented: “Lucy brings a wealth of customer-focused experience to the GRC which fits exactly with our ambition to provide passengers with the best possible experience. The unique membership of the GRC means the whole industry can work together to improve the railway, particularly important as passengers begin to return after the pandemic.” The GRC was launched by rail industry bosses in 2019 with a commitment for closer working to tackle performance, simplify rail fare structures, improve the quality of trains and stations, and deliver more efficient timetables for passengers. As well the WMRE, train operating companies and Network Rail, for the first time in the country freight operators are included as key partners in the collaboration. Following a change to how Network Rail operates the railway, the Worcester area has become part of Central route after moving from Western at the end of April.
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As a result, Great Western Railway is the latest partner to be involved, with its managing director Mark Hopwood bringing a wealth of industry experience to the GRC. Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde, the recently appointed managing director of Transport for Wales, and previous West Midlands Trains boss, will also be part of the team. Members of the Grand Railway Collaboration include: West Midlands Trains, Great Western Railway, CrossCountry, Avanti West Coast, Chiltern Railways and Transport for Wales; Network Rail, Rail Freight Group, West Midlands Rail Executive, and Transport Focus. Areas of the rail industry the GRC will tackle include passenger and freight train performance, simplifying fare structures, improving the quality of trains and stations, sharing busy track capacity in the most efficient way and delivering resilient, reliable timetables.
New Thoughts on Cardiff Crossrail
New details have been revealed about major upgrades to public transport in northwest Cardiff including new train stations, express bus services and potential tram routes. A major new report looks at short and long term ways public transport can be improved, including the Cardiff Crossrail tram-train route, as rising congestion is feared. The transport corridor from northwest Cardiff to the city centre is expected to see a huge rise in demand, both on public transport and the road network, as thousands of houses are built. By 2025, train stations could be built at the Mill housing development in Ely and at Junction 34 of the M4; as well as express bus routes introduced from the city centre to Plasdŵr, Talbot Green and a new park-and-ride at Junction 33; and more frequent train services. The second phase, between 2025 and 2030, could see the Crossrail tram-train route built from the city centre to Junction 33, Creigiau, and then ending at either Pontyclun or Beddau. This would likely link up with the existing City Line railway just north of Fairwater station. Transport consultants Mott MacDonald, commissioned by the Welsh Government, Cardiff council, Rhondda Cynon Taf council, and Transport for Wales, wrote
the 156-page WelTAG stage one report on the northwest corridor exploring potential options. Cardiff council’s cabinet heard the report on Thursday, June 17, and voted to move on to the next stage: preparing an outline business case for the major public transport upgrades. Rhondda Cynon Taf council’s cabinet also considered the report. Massively upgraded public transport is needed to cater for the thousands of houses planned for Plasdŵr in northwest Cardiff, as well as huge housing developments north of Junction 33, south of Creigiau, and Cwm Colliery and Coking Works, and at Mwyndy and Talbot Green. The Crossrail route will likely run along the disused Llantrisant branch line, which runs from Fairwater through the northwest of Cardiff, including through Plasdŵr. New platforms could be built for the tram south of Cardiff Central train station, potentially at Callaghan Square. One option would see the tram run along Penarth Road and Sloper Road by Cardiff City Stadium, before linking up to the existing railway by Ninian Park station. Crossrail would also link down to the Bay at Porth Teigr, then extend on to Splott and Tremorfa. Train services would become more frequent on the City Line, from Cardiff Central to Radyr, where the Ely Mill station would be built. Trains would also become more frequent on the South Wales Main Line, where the new Junction 34 station would be built by Miskin. The next step, WelTAG stage two, will see consultants draw up an outline business case for the upgrades with much more detail. The third stage would then see a full business case drawn up.
An Underwater Rail line from China to the USA
According to a report in Railfreight, a 13,000km-long railway line from China to the USA, running partially underwater to cover the Bering Strait would be the finishing touch of the Belt and Road initiative, as it would connect the world by rail. But that will never happen, the majority of the RailFreight readers said in a poll on the website. Only a small number of people had full confidence in the project, which has been discussed since 2014 and seems to have more people talking than actually building.
RAILWAY NEWS FROM AROUND THE GREAT WESTERN REGION
It is called the China-Russia-Canada-America line, and it was first proposed by China in 2014. It would start in mainland China, run through Siberia, pass under the sea through the Bering Strait into Alaska, to continue to Canada and finally the USA. It is not to be confused with the Bering Strait Tunnel, which is only the part crossing the Bering Strait. This has been on the wishlist of engineers for centuries. InterBering, an Alaska-based company, is actively working to realise the Bering Strait Tunnel. Constructing the China-Russia-Canada-America railway line could provide capacity for up to 100 million tons of freight, or 8 per cent of world freight cargo each year between Europe, Russia, China, Japan, South Korea, Canada and USA. Moreover, it would enable passengers to travel between the USA and Russia in just a little over 20 minutes, if highspeed trains would run on the network. It is also dubbed the Global Land Bridge, as it would connect the world, so run the arguments of those proposing the project. It is however not surprising that the majority of the RailFreight readers voted with little confidence in the project (56%). Technically, the project is very challenging, the costs are shy-high and maybe most importantly, the political relations between the USA, Russia and China are not at the very best. What is more, it is not entirely clear who is to construct the tunnel, as various parties seem to have their respective ambitions. Technically, the crossover at the Bering Strait is the most challenging task. If an underwater tunnel would be constructed here, it would be the longest in the world, extending over 103km. In comparison, the Channel Tunnel, currently the world’s longest, is 50km long. InterBering, an Alaska-based company, seems to be actively working on the project. The project would actually involve construction of three parallel tunnels under the Bering Strait, along with sections of railway linking to the rail systems on each of the two continents, InterBering writes. “Two tunnels would accommodate two-way traffic and consist of two levels: the bottom part for slower moving cargo and passenger traffic; an upper level for high-speed rail trains. The third tunnel would function as an emergency tunnel and be placed in the middle.” Interbering says to “integrate information and management processes with particular focus on the organisation, financing and construction of an interhemispheric Bering Strait tunnel and joining the railways of two continents, North America and Asia”. According to the company, the project would take 12-15 years, at an estimated cost of 35 billion US Dollars. However, that includes the underwater link alone. In order to make
this a global land bridge connecting China and the USA, new infrastructure needs to be laid, as there are currently a lot of missing links. On the Russian side, the closest terminus lies 3,000km away, while in Alaska the project would require some 1,200km of new rail line. What makes things more complicated, is that Russian and American railways use different track gauges, writes Ed Peters in the South China Morning Post. It is this missing infrastructure that makes the project a huge financial challenge. The estimated total costs are around 200 billion US Dollars, which according to the critics, is out of proportion. As the shipping routes already exist, it is more viable to continue shipping by ocean, is the often heard argument by opponents. Although Interbering claims to “actively bring about an historic agreement between the Governors of the State of Alaska (USA) and Chukotka Autonomous Okrug (Russia) making this proposed rail tunnel a future reality, China seems to be on a completely different page. China announced its plans to build the China-Russia-Canada-America line in 2014. At the time, engineers from China claimed to be in talks with Russia about beginning the line. Moreover, it is currently realising the world’s first underwater bullet train, which would extend from Ningbo, a port city near Shanghai, to Zhoushan, an archipelago of islands off the East coast. Many consider this a test project, to see whether they could realise the longer Bering Strait Tunnel. The Ningbo-Zhoushan tunnel is 77km long, of which 16.2km is situated under water. Although the underwater section is shorter than the Channel Tunnel, the novelty is that it will facilitate high-speed rail traffic. To be precise, it will have a Maglev train, levitating above a magnetic track as it is propelled along at high speeds. And this is not a dream project, as it is already underway. China and Russia are not unlikely to cooperate in this project. After all, they already share the longest railway line in the world: the Trans-Siberia Line. The two countries have worked together very closely over the past few years to form a bridge between Europe and Asia, and a railway line to the USA would be an extension of this effort. However, the willingness of the USA to work with Russia and China on this megaproject is less likely. Currently, the relationship between the USA and Russia is not at its best, and as China is taking over as the dominant economic player in the world, the USA may not be so eager to facilitate this growth. At the same time, the benefits will be for all the countries involved. “The Bering Strait rail and tunnel project can help enhance and expand prosperity for
the 21st Century by linking the world’s greatest industrial nations with the vast untapped mineral resources of the Arctic”, said Alaska’s Governor Wally Hickel. In order to realise the project, the countries involved will all have to chip in, and all be involved. Before consensus is reached and funding is made available from all sides, the China-Russia-Canada-America line is likely to remain a dream project.
Carbis Bay Station Sign Returned to Former Glory
Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled a new Carbis Bay station sign on Thursday 10 June, almost 70 years after his grandfather helped build the original. This unveiling was during the Inter-Governmental G7 Summit in Cornwall. The sign has been reinstated by Network Rail with their Chair, Sir Peter Hendy CBE, joining the Prime Minister at a ceremony held at the picturesque setting in Cornwall. The new station sign is situated opposite the station platform. The border of the sign is made from re-used railway sleepers with the letters made from granite stone and infilled with seashells, in homage to design of the original station sign. The remaining space is filled with a series of plants adding some additional colour to the sign. The original sign was constructed out of seashells but is believed to have been removed during World War Two. Following the War, the sign was rebuilt from white cobbles in the 1950s. This addition to Carbis Bay station concludes Network Rail’s recent upgrades on the St Ives Bay line, following work earlier this year to complete a £3m track renewal between Carbis Bay and St Ives as well as resurfacing the platform at Carbis Bay station. This was the biggest track investment on the St Ives Bay line in 60 years and is helping to provide a more reliable railway for passengers in Cornwall. Sir Peter Hendy CBE, Chair of Network Rail, said: “Before the war, and again in the 1950s and 60s, this unique sign welcomed local people and holidaymakers to Carbis Bay. I’m pleased that as part of our large investment in the future of the St Ives Bay railway we’ve been able to recreate it for everybody. I hope it’ll remain for generations to come and remind passengers of this lovely and memorable
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seaside place, as we welcome people back to the railway.”
Midlands Engine Rail Seven projects. 736 more passenger trains every day. Fully integrated with HS2. Midlands Engine Rail (MER) is a £3.5 billion plan to transform the region’s rail network. Made up of seven projects spanning the East Midlands and West Midlands, up to 60 locations could benefit from improved east-west services by creating space for 736 more passenger trains on the network each day. Birmingham, Leicester, Coventry, Nottingham, Derby, Stoke-on-Trent, Crewe, Shrewsbury, Lincoln, Worcester and Wolverhampton are just some of the places that could receive faster, more frequent services. The Midlands’ location at the heart of the UK transport network gives MER national significance, driving benefits as far afield as Cardiff, Bristol, Newcastle and Sheffield. MER also boosts rail freight capacity by making space for an additional one million lorries’ worth of cargo to be transported by rail each year. Its plans are fully integrated with HS2 and include two conventional-compatible services that could directly link Nottingham and Leicester city centres to the new high speed network. The government is being urged to fund MER’s development with a £45.5 million investment to take its seven projects to the next stage. The seven projects are: Midlands Rail Hub Birmingham Airport Connectivity Midlands Connect Conventional com patible HS2 services HS2 East Midlands Hub connectivity Derby-Stoke-Crewe Birmingham-Black Country-Shrews bury Nottingham-Lincoln
Swansea railway station refurbished
ing facilities, new toilets, and refurbished space for use by local businesses and community groups. Among the improvements are: • New Customer Information Screens • New signage and rebranding • New cycle shelter added at front of station • Additional benches • New lighting and waiting shel ter on platform 4 • Refurbishment of male and female toilets • Replaced end of platform barriers • New recycling bins and refuse storage area • Provision for station colleagues to make public address an nouncements whilst mobile • New LED lighting • New luggage trollies and bays at platform 2/3 TfW project manager Yasmin Browning said: The work at Swansea station really has gone a long way to transforming
the station for customers. Enhancements across the length and breadth of the station mean better customer access to information and more comfortable surroundings whilst waiting to depart. The extended Platform 4 not only looks great but will allow for more options bringing trains in and out of the station, helping deliver key capacity improvements. This project has shown how close collaboration with our Network Rail Partners can deliver for customers. GWR’s Head of Customer Experience Samyutha Bala said: We are delighted that work to extend Platform 4 has been completed and can now accommodate our 10-car Intercity Express Trains. This gives us greater flexibility at Swansea which will reduce delays and maintain a reliable service for our customers. This is particularly important as lockdown eases and both leisure and business travel increases. We work very closely with Network Rail Wales and Western and Transport for Wales and they have done a great job here, that will really make a difference for our customers.
Swansea railway station has been given a dramatic transformation after Network Rail and Transport for Wales came together to deliver key improvements. An investment of more than £7.5m in the station is the biggest in more than a decade and will make passengers’ journeys more reliable, comfortable and enjoyable. Almost the entire length of platform four has been rebuilt and is now 260 metres long and means that the platform can now accommodate 10 carriage intercity trains, providing more flexibility for passengers. The station itself has had a major refresh with improved ticket-buy-
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Swansea railway station was first opened on June 19th 1850 and celebrates its 171st birthday this year. Network Rail invested £6.6m into the demolition of the old and complete re-build of the new platform, which included a £330,000 investment by the Department of Transport. To make way for the new structure, contractors Alun Griffiths Ltd removed 2,400 tonnes of demolition waste from the site for recycling. The demolition waste was separated on site, with steel being taken to recycling centres in Swansea and Bridgend, while concrete was taken to the Alun Griffiths Ltd recycling centre in Llanelli. Transport for Wales invested more than £1m into refurbishing and upgrading facilities across the station.
Manchester Piccadilly escalator trials virus busting technology
Space-age technology is being trialled at Manchester Piccadilly station to give passenger escalators added protection from COVID-19. A new sanitising system has been installed inside a station escalator to continually coat its handrail with an invisible layer of disinfecting particles each time it goes around and a device inside the escalator mechanism, which works by extracting oxygen and nitrogen from the air to produce plasma particles that are applied on to the handrail kill and prevent 99.9% of hidden viruses and bacterial pathogens. The protective covering lasts up to six hours, with visual and audible displays to show the system is working. This creates a reassuring shield for commuters and day trippers who use the handrails for safety, showing the public returning to rail travel that touchpoints are clean. Kyla Thomas, station manager at Manchester Piccadilly, said: “We’re really proud to trial this virus-busting technology on one of our busiest escalators. It’s an added layer of protection already in place through our rigorous cleaning activities and social distancing measures. “Not only does our space-age cleansing system prevent the spread of bugs, but it also gives passengers confidence they can hold the handrail without slips, trips and falls. Should the trial be success-
ful we’ll be looking to roll it out to the other escalators in the station.” The new sanitizing system is just one of many measures being implemented by the rail industry to keep passengers safe. London Euston station has been trialling a system which instead treats the escalator handrail with ultra-violet light.
Innovative railway footbridge design is unveiled
A new design of bridge that could transform rail crossings across Britain has been unveiled by Network Rail. The innovative circular bridge is set to revolutionise the way Network Rail builds footbridges over the tracks. Made from lightweight material, the environmentally friendly bridge can be installed in a matter of days, and its modern, modular design means it can be adapted to different locations. It also features built-in monitoring to assess usage and maintenance needs. Andy Cross, Network Rail Programme Manager, said “We were able to take a different approach. This has allowed us to work with several small and medium-sized businesses, many of whom haven’t worked on railway projects before but have the skills and expertise to bring the concept of a lightweight, low-cost footbridge to life. In just 11 months we have developed a prototype bridge that is stunning in design, environmentally friendly and will take days and not weeks to install and thereby causing less disruption for the surrounding community.” Network Rail currently has just one option when considering building a new footbridge or replacing an old one, the standard non-station footbridge design that is heavy, unattractive and expensive to deliver. This new design is made from Fibre-Reinforced Polymer (FRP) – a lightweight material that is widely used in other industries, including the manufacture of aircraft and cars. The material is very strong but lightweight, leading to lower transport and installation costs. It is hoped the ground-breaking design will be adopted across the country as part of a wider programmer of work to transform how footbridges are built on the rail network in future, as well as providing an attractive alternative to repairing existing crossings. The next phase of the project
involves developing sustainable procurement and construction options as well as a ramped version of the bridge. The prototype has been trial built at a test centre in Long Marston, Warwickshire, and will go on show there at the 2021 RAIL Live event on June 16-17. The following organisations were all part of the project team that worked with Network Rail to help: Knight Architects - bridge architectural specialists who were able to come up with an exciting new concept that the team could turn into reality. Jacobs - who provided design expertise and independent checking of the Network Rail design. KS Composite – manufactured the bridge spine. Sui Generis – made the deck units that clamp to the spine. Epsilon Optics – designed, manufactured and installed the monitoring system. Q-Railings – structural glazing and parapets to buildings. JT Consulting – who designed, manufactured and installed the Rapid Root foundation system. Flofo – who have provided virtual working platforms and new approaches to team working and monitoring the risks and opportunities of the project.
Birmingham Brick Victorian Viaducts Get Railway Revamp Two Victorian-built railway viaducts in Birmingham are having essential repairs to make them more reliable for passenger and freight journeys. The large brick structures take tracks over the River Cole in two locations to the west of Stechford station. Scaffolding has been put up so that structural engineers can do a full inspection of the 185-year-old structures. Network Rail will then replace broken viaduct bricks and carry out major mortar repairs and repointing during the work. The £1.1m Railway Upgrade Plan investment has been designed to keep the viaducts safe and reliable for many years to come. Sreedevi Thekkedathu, scheme project manager at Network Rail, said: “These essential upgrades at Stechford will improve passenger and freight journeys on these busy routes in and out of Birmingham. Carrying out work on historic structures like these viaducts is a real privilege but it is also a challenge given their height over the river. We’d like to thank people living and working nearby for their patience while we carry out this vital maintenance over the coming months.” The repairs started in May and will continue until November 2021. No trains will be disrupted while the project is carried out.
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RAILWAY NEWS FROM AROUND THE GREAT WESTERN REGION
Edwardian era station improved for 21st century Chiltern passengers Major improvements at Gerrards Cross are now complete to improve the station for Chiltern main line passengers. A £2.4m Railway Upgrade Plan investment by Network Rail has seen: • Platform canopy roofs and glazing replaced with more durable materials to protect waiting passengers from the elements • New lighting installed to brighten up the station making it safe and secure at night • The 1906-built station’s main roof entirely replaced • Additional glazing repairs around the station • Repainting of traditional steelwork
According to Lawrence James, scheme project manager for Network Rail, “We take great care to look after our heritage buildings and the work at Gerrards Cross shows how we’re building back better as the country emerges from the coronavirus pandemic. This Railway Upgrade Plan investment of £2.4m we hope will make a huge difference for people who use Gerrards Cross station, creating a cleaner and brighter environment and improving their journeys for years to come.” Eleni Jordan, Chiltern Railways commercial and customer strategy director, added: “Chiltern Railways are committed to improving our stations and continuous-
ly strive to provide our customers with a first-class customer experience. Working in collaboration with Network Rail, the work at Gerrards Cross will make a big difference to our customers by creating a brighter and better station while ensuring we maintain the station’s heritage. We hope that our customers will be pleased with the refurbishment that has taken place.” The improvement work started in March and finished in June 2021. Both platforms have brand new roof canopies made of super-strong, durable materials to replace old-worn out materials.
The noisiest work will take place during the day to avoid inconveniencing nearby residents at night.
Due to the repairs being over the River Cole, Network Rail is working with the Environment Agency during the project.
Renew acquires Scotland-based Rail Electrification Infrastructure engineering services company Renew announced on 25th May that its wholly owned subsidiary QTS Group has acquired Rail Electrification (REL), for a total cash consideration of up to £5.3m. The AIM-traded firm described the Scotland-based REL as a “leading provider” of road rail plant and services associated with the installation and commissioning of overhead line electrification in both the light and heavy rail infrastructure sectors across the UK. It said REL would bring “highly complementary” capabilities to Renew's existing rail offering, and would enable the company to further capitalise on the planned increased level of investment by Network Rail into rail electrification.
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our customer to ensure it is every part the success it deserves to be.”
Last Pacer leaves TfW
tpgroup Powers the UK’s First Full-Scale Hydrogen Train tpgroup is providing the hydrogen fuel cell systems that will power the production version of the HydroFLEX – the UK’s first hydrogen train. The contract is with British rolling stock owner Porterbrook, and is part of an initiative that aims to show how hydrogen powered trains can be safely and efficiently operated for future public transport. HydroFLEX is to be showcased on an international stage at the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), which will be held in Glasgow later this year. This contract covers the supply of safety-critical hydrogen fuel cell systems that convert hydrogen into electricity to power the HydroFLEX. tpgroup is acting as the prime contractor for the integrated hydrogen fuel system, building upon the Group’s preliminary consulting work around developing the system requirements and configuration. The initial project will take approximately six months to complete and will be delivered by the team at the Group’s Gas Technology Centre in Portsmouth. The integrated fuel system will be deployed on a HydroFLEX train for a series of proving and demonstration activities. A significant milestone in the HydroFLEX programme is the recent news of the collaboration between Network Rail and Porterbrook to bring the UK’s first hydrogen train to COP26. As part of a best of British low-carbon train technology showcase, the HydroFLEX will be used for invited guests to support globally significant discussions within its converted boardroom, as well as to transport them to fringe events such as the possibility of viewing the Zero Emission Train, Scotland’s first hydrogen powered train. HydroFLEX was developed by Porterbrook and Birmingham’s Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE) as a response to the UK government’s chal-
lenge to remove diesel-only trains from the national network by 2040. Based on a Class 319 electric multiple unit, the HydroFLEX is fitted with hydrogen fuel tanks, a fuel cell and battery pack to provide independent traction power capable of operation with zero carbon emissions. The vehicle successfully undertook its first phase of mainline testing on September 29th – achieving top speeds of 50mph. Phil Cartmell, tpgroup’s Chief Executive said: “We are delighted to be able to announce that our first hydrogen contract within the Rail Sector is with Porterbrook and the ground-breaking hydrogen-powered HydroFLEX. This is an exciting opportunity for our Green Business to be part of a critical initiative in helping the UK’s rail sector to meet its Net Zero targets. Further, we are immensely proud to learn that that the HydroFLEX, powered by tpgroup’s hydrogen system, will be part of the British low-carbon train technology showcase at COP26, and look forward to supporting
Transport for Wales has said goodbye to the last Pacer trains after more than 30 years of service, marking the end of an era for Britain’s railways. The final Class 143 trains - 143601 and 143609 - ran their last services on the South Wales valleys network on Saturday 29 May, having operated the equivalent of over five trips to the Moon and back during their working lives. The Pacers have now been replaced by larger, more modern trains with better accessibility. TfW is also pressing ahead with building brand new trains for the Wales and Borders network and the South Wales Metro, which will begin to enter service in 2022. James Price, Transport for Wales CEO, said: “The end of the long service of our Pacer trains marks a key step in the transformation of the Valley Lines, as part of the development of the South Wales Metro. While the Pacers have worked hard throughout our network over the last 30 years, our customers deserve more modern trains that provide better facilities, improved accessibility and a more comfortable ride. “We’re working hard behind the scenes to deliver brand new trains to replace the existing fleet, which will provide more capacity and faster, greener journeys in years to come. In the interim, we have introduced the larger Class 769 trains which provide increased capacity and an improved customer experience.” TfW began withdrawing its Pacers back in December 2020. However, not all of them are heading for the scrapyard. One Pacer has already been donated to the Llanelli and Mynydd Mawr Railway in
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Carmarthenshire, and several more will be donated to heritage railways and community projects over the coming weeks.
Brand new trains off the production line in Newport The transformation of the Wales and Borders network has moved another step closer with the first of the brand-new Class 197 trains coming off the production line. Testing has begun on the first two of 77 new trains which are due to begin entering service from next year on long-distance services, serving destinations as varied as Holyhead, Fishguard and Liverpool. The bodyshells of the Class 197 Civity trains were built in Beasain, northern Spain, by Spanish rolling stock manufacturer CAF before final assembly took place at the company’s factory in Llanwern, Newport. Lee Waters, Deputy Minister for Climate Change, commented: “As we recover from the pandemic and work towards a greener future we need to do all we can to encourage more people back on the train. “Seeing these new trains coming off the production line is a positive sign of improving the quality of train travel in Wales.” James Price, Transport for Wales Chief Executive, said: “It’s an exciting milestone to have the first brand new trains built by Transport for Wales off the production line and into testing. “The Class 197s will be an important part of the transformation of the Wales and Borders network and we look forward to welcoming passengers onto the new trains from next year. “We’re delighted with the quality of the trains and proud that final assembly has taken place in Newport, supporting highly-skilled jobs and bringing further employment to the area.” These new trains will provide enhanced comfort for TfW customers with features such as leather seats (first class), stain resistant seats and a modern air conditioning/heating system. The Class 197 trains also come equipped with a smart seat reservations system. Seat reservations will be downloaded from the reservation computer each time traincrew change ends on the train. Richard Garner, CAF’s UK Director, comments: “CAF is proud to be playing a key role in delivering Transport for Wales’ commitment to transform rail travel. Our ‘Made in Wales’ trains put the passengers needs first and will ensure a high-quality, reliable, and comfortable journey across the Welsh rail network.” The £30m CAF factory at Celtic Business Park near Llanwern Steelworks in
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Newport has grown from just 12 employees in 2016 to more than 200 today. Testing for the two new trains (197001 and 197002) is currently taking place in North Wales and the north of England.
Relaunch heralds bright new future for National College as part of University of Birmingham group
The University of Birmingham is launching the new National College for Advanced Transport and Infrastructure (NCATI) in a special collaboration between higher and further education. As part of the University group, the new NCATI will produce a new generation of highly skilled professionals to lead Britain’s future rail, transport and infrastructure workforce. NCATI will draw on the University’s internationally-recognised rail expertise and, with strong industry and a wide range of partners, will help address the sector’s skills gaps in the Midlands and the North. Professor Tim Jones, Provost and Vice-Principal at the University of Birmingham, said: “Our collaboration with NCATI is a unique project, which the University of Birmingham is particularly well-placed to deliver. We’re looking forward to securing a bright new future for learners, industry partners and local communities, using our internationally-recognised expertise in railway education to deliver the next generation of skilled workers into the sector.” The launch is the culmination of a rigorous process where the University worked with the Department for Education to secure a successful, sustainable and inclusive future for the College. A new Principal, Ian Fitzpatrick, has been appointed to lead the College in its mission to be world-class in the provision of national education outcomes in the rail, transport and infrastructure sectors.
Ian said: “I’m extremely proud to be joining NCATI and to have the opportunity to work with a great team on its next phase. I am looking forward to continuing to build the reputation of the College so that it is the focal point for skills development in the sector; as well as creating and delivering an innovative high-quality provision that is ambitious and inclusive. I’m excited to start supporting our learners to reach their full potential and fulfilling the needs of employers and stakeholders.” At state-of-the-art campuses in Birmingham and Doncaster, the new NCATI will provide high quality education and training with a distinctive local offering that specialises in Railway and Transportation Engineering. In addition, a hub and spoke model will see NCATI collaborating with education partners around the UK, ensuring it fully plays its role as a National College. Apprenticeships will be a fundamental part of the NCATI curriculum moving forward. Following a thorough application process, the new NCATI has been accepted onto the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers and is now preparing for new apprentices to join the College in the coming months. Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills Gillian Keegan said: “It is fantastic to have agreed a new partnership between the University of Birmingham and the National College for Advanced Transport and Infrastructure. “This partnership protects opportunities for apprentices, tackles skills gaps across the region and initiates an exciting collaboration between Further Education and Higher Education, delivering high level technical skills in an important sector of the UK economy. As we continue to rebuild and reopen, I look forward to seeing students being welcomed to the college’s state-of-the-art campuses in Birmingham and Doncaster, and wish them all the best on their future studies and training.”
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By developing impactful collaborations with education providers, employers and industry bodies, NCATI will also become established as an integral part of the Government’s transport, infrastructure and broader industrial strategy. The need for a highly skilled workforce to deliver the Government’s ambitious programme of transport infrastructure investment was highlighted in its most recent Transport Infrastructure and Skills Strategy. The strategy emphasises the importance of high quality training in the sector to support its levelling up agenda and post-covid recovery, as well as an ambitious programme of transport infrastructure investment. Professor Clive Roberts, Head of the School of Engineering at the University of Birmingham, said: “NCATI offers us the opportunity to support our existing and new partners across the rail, broader transportation and infrastructure sectors. The provision of high quality vocational education is critical to ensuring that the current and future workforce has the right skills to deliver the pipeline of existing projects. The national reach of the College allows individuals and companies in all parts of the country to benefit from the courses on offer.” HS2 Minister Andrew Stephenson said: “The new National College for Advanced Transport and Infrastructure will provide valuable training, new skills and real opportunities for people entering the sector for the first time, as well as those seeking to retrain. “We will continue to work closely with the College as it strives to attract a diverse range of talent to the transport sector.” Sir Peter Hendy CBE, Chair of Network Rail, said: “We very much welcome the collaboration between the new NCATI and the University of Birmingham and look forward to supporting the college as it develops the next generation of skilled workers.” Kate Myers, Head of Skills, Employment and Education at HS2 Ltd said: “The new National College will play a crucial role in upskilling students for the breadth of careers that HS2 and other major infrastructure and rail engineering projects are creating. With construction well underway on HS2 between London and Birmingham, and approval to extend the line north to Crewe, the number of opportunities for skilled individuals is increasing daily. We look forward to working collaboratively with NCATI to ensure HS2 fulfils its aim of leaving a lasting legacy in skills and engineering in the UK.”
Photo courtesy of the HRE Group In recent times, a number of published articles have drawn attention to the actions of Highways England Historical Railway Estate (HRE) – a little known body responsible for redundant railway structures. Although operating on behalf of the Department for Transport (DfT) this organisation appeared to pay scant regard to the priority now accorded to sustainable travel. Far from seeking to reuse surplus assets to promote cycling and walking, HRE seemed determined to stop it happening.
HRE continue to block bridges
The threat to a number of potentially important structures has brought together an alliance of cycling, walking and heritage groups to highlight and oppose
the more damaging proposals. The HRE Group (as it is known and not to be confused with HRE) continues to publicise cases where officials are pressing ahead with controversial decisions despite clear local opposition. The most egregious case currently is the infilling of Great Musgrave Bridge in Cumbria which will permanently block plans to link two stretches of heritage railway. This is despite Highways England’s Head of Scheme Delivery, David Wheatley having recently told Rail Engineer magazine: “We can confirm that any work carried out by the Historical Railways Estate in the future will not thwart any potential active travel schemes, or any rail re-openings, including the extension of preserved railways.”
The track over Brunel’s bridge. Photo courtesy of the HRE Group
The Brunel Bridge: built by Brunel in the 1850s is now threatened with infilling. 12
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RAILWAY NEWS FROM AROUND THE GREAT WESTERN REGION £30m ‘levelling up’ bid put in to UK Government to improve Wales-England rail link
A Transport for Wales train. Picture by Jeremy Segrott (CC BY 2.0)
Work underway to permanently block Great Musgrave Bridge. Photo courtesy of the HRE Group
Threat to Brunel Bridge is “cultural vandalism”
Meanwhile in Cornwall concern is growing about plans to infill a redundant bridge designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel in the 1850s. It lies three miles west of his famous Royal Albert bridge over the River Tamar on a section of line that is now abandoned. Last September, HRE told Cornwall Council that the bridge was damp and has “calcite deposits throughout the arch barrel. There is standing water beneath the structure.” They further claimed that the bridge is “an ongoing and increasing risk to public safety” and is therefore going to be infilled under permitted development powers “to prevent an emergency arising”. John Ball, Secretary of the Cornwall Railway Society, however, argues that “the bridge is an attractive stone structure sitting harmlessly in the Cornish countryside. Being 162 years old, it would benefit from a few minor repairs, but it cannot seriously be regarded as presenting any risk to the public. It is in ‘Fair’ condition and is crossed by a remote farm track that connects two fields. Its destruction is completely unnecessary and a waste of public money to the tune of about £145,000.” John and other campaigners argue that although not needed for transport the bridge “merits preservation as an historic piece of the nation’s infrastructure, built by arguably our greatest civil engineer. To destroy it in the absence of any danger to the public – who do not even have any access to it – amounts to cultural vandalism.”
Lack of accountability of HRE
Apart from the intrinsic merits of individual cases campaigners raise serious questions about the accountability of HRE. In the case of Great Musgrave Bridge they claim to have obtained copies of an internal report showing that the bridge could be suitably strengthened by repointing. The cost would be around £15,000. Why then, they ask, is HRE pressing ahead with a destructive intervention costing £124,000? Similar
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claims are made in respect of other structures including Brunel’s Cornish bridge. The group further maintain that HRE is abusing permitted development rights by falsely claiming they need to act to prevent an emergency. This enables them to limit scrutiny by planning committees and override local concerns. A number of local authorities have taken the initiative to inform HRE that any infilling scheme in their area will require full planning approval. To date Cornwall has not done so, although Devon and Mendip have.
Questions for the Transport Select Committee
The concerns of campaigners have at last been taken up by the Transport Select Committee in an exchange of letters with the DfT. On 23 March 2021 the committee wrote asking that HRE should not “view the estate primarily as a risk to be minimised, but rather as assets to be preserved, repurposed for public benefit and enjoyed.” It asked DfT to revise their protocol with HRE accordingly. In its response the DfT acknowledged the concerns raised by the committee but pointed to cases where HRE has worked effectively with local authorities to preserve important structures. The Twizel viaduct in Northumberland is one such example. Significantly the response made no mention of any revision to the protocol. It is difficult to ascertain the true position given that the DfT simply deny the claims made by the HRE Group and quote counter examples. Given the number of plausible cases of inappropriate action, however, there is a clear need for the select committee to mount a full investigation of what is going on. There are two west country MPs on that committee – Ben Bradshaw, Exeter and Chris Loder, West Dorset. Local campaigners might usefully direct their concerns to them.
A Welsh local authority has put in a £30m bid for ‘levelling up’ money to improve a Wales-England rail link which has been “starved of investment”. Business and local authority leaders on both sides of the Wales-England border have endorsed plans to improve the Borderlands line between Wrexham and Bidston on the Wirral Peninsula, which also stops at several points in Flintshire. The bid is being led by Flintshire Council whose political leader Ian Roberts said investment in the route was well overdue and would help to progress long term proposals to run four trains per hour into Liverpool city centre. It follows Transport for Wales officials describing the existing service as having “reliability issues” earlier this year, with the condition of stations labelled as “poor”. The application to the UK Government’s Levelling Up Fund includes three main investment schemes as part of a move to deliver faster and more frequent trains along the line. It includes a new station based on Deeside Industrial Park with a large 250-space car park and bus interchange facilities and a further park and ride service at Penyffordd Station. New freight sidings would also be created at the Hanson Cement Works in Padeswood to prevent the current disruption caused to passenger services by freight trains. Flintshire Council leader Ian Roberts said: “The Wrexham to Bidston line has been described variously in the past as a Cinderella service. It has been starved of investment for many, many years and this is something that we need to start putting back in. If we can get these facilities and if we can get them working well, hopefully the line will then begin to develop and will produce benefits for the community. “The eventual aim is to support services which run around the loop line in Liverpool. The immediate aim is to get services running into Birkenhead North Station,
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where there is a considerably more frequent service on the Liverpool Loop Line.” The capital fund which the council is
hoping to draw money from was created by the UK Government to improve local infrastructure and support economic recovery. In most cases, requests for up to £20m are being invited, but scope has been included to provide more money for larger transport projects. The bid has received the backing of Alyn and Deeside MP Mark Tami, Vale of Clwyd MP James Davies and the Growth Track 360 partnership, which includes business and council leaders. The UK Government’s decision to bypass the Welsh Government and directly allocate the funding itself has been described as a “deliberate assault on Welsh devolution” by Wales’ Economy Minister Vaughan Gething. However, Cllr Roberts said his priority was on delivering improvements for rail passengers. He said: “Politicians of a higher grade than me can argue about the Levelling Up Fund. “My own view is that we have devolution in Wales and therefore the Welsh Government should have a say in allocating the fund. “But we hope this intervention and the new investment on the Wrexham to Bidston line will allow Cinderella to go to the ball in a carriage that’s modern with stations that are improved.” The overall bid is worth just over £30m and was submitted today ahead of the deadline set by the Westminster government.
Yorkshire engineering expertise enlisted to boost railway infrastructure
Engineering company SCX Special Projects is at the heart of a technology project set to revolutionise how rail footbridges are built across the UK’s rail network. SCX is known for its “sliding pitch” at Premier League Tottenham Hotspur’s iconic stadium and the two concertina roofs over the show courts at the All England Lawn Tennis Club at Wimbledon. It has teamed up with more worldclass names to develop an environmentally friendly, easily accessible and cost effective adaptable footbridge for Network Rail. SCX, based at Wincobank, Sheffield, has designed a modular passenger lift system for the footbridge that overcomes many weaknesses of traditional passenger lifts, while also solving complex and time-consuming installation challenges.
The new footbridge design has been christened AVA, chosen for the letters that echo its triangular design. Each AVA lift module can be manufactured in SCX’s workshops as a single unit, shipped to site on a trailer, and simply lifted into position and attached to the bridge. The design makes lift maintenance easier, while also tackling the issue of fragile door mechanisms – the number one cause of out-of-order lifts – to keep the rail network accessible to all, including disabled users, people with prams and pushchairs and cyclists.
Danny Pickard, sales director at SCX, said: “We have been working with some great British companies to deliver the AVA adaptable bridge for Network Rail. “By making the AVA lift system entirely modular, the installation process is greatly simplified and can be performed anywhere and everywhere – from a remote rural station to a big rail hub. “It firmly establishes us in the rail and infrastructure sectors at an important time when HS2 is on the horizon. “The AVA footbridge can be built for half the cost of a traditional bridge and in a quarter of the time. “This could save millions for Network Rail while improving access for thousands of British rail travellers. “Beyond that, the design also has relevance to footbridges over the road network, at transport interchanges, service stations, and more.” A Network Rail spokesman added: “Created by a world class engineering, manufacturing and construction team, and designed to be different, the configurable nature of the bridge design means AVA can fit any station, anywhere. “Construction of the test station is well underway and, once that phase is finished, the first AVA footbridge installations will commence on the UK’s national rail network.” This Network Rail initiative is backed by Innovate UK, and saw SCX working alongside a team featuring Expedition Engineering Ltd, Walker Construction UK Ltd, X-TREME SYSTEMS LIMITED, MTC – Manufacturing Technology Centre, Quantum Infrastructure, Hawkins Brown Architects, Norman Foster Foundation, and Atelier Ten.
The Tale of Llandinam Football Club and the Forden rail crash of 1904
According to a story in the Powys County Times by Sports reporter Gavin Grosvenor, football is not played in Llandinam these days. However its long-disbanded football club can be rightly regarded as a pioneer of the sport in mid Wales. Sadly the club’s short history is also entwined with another Victorian invention - the railway crash in Forden in December 1904 which left six people injured. Football spread from the towns of Powys and mid Wales to nearby villages at an increasing rate during the 1890s. Some have long disappeared. Such names as Llanwnog Swifts and Pontdolgoch Swifts have long been forgotten though such clubs briefly existed even it had only been for annual Christmas morning matches with the last recorded meeting of these sides in 1894. The following year the first efforts to establish a league in the Newtown area saw Caersws, Bettws, Kerry, Newtown Half-Holiday, Cambrian North End and Royal Welsh Warehouse join under the presidency of Newtown’s Welsh Cup hero Albert Westhead Pryce-Jones and brother William Ernest Pryce-Jones. Still football was a cause of complaint in the Severn Valley. A match at Llanllugan against Llanwdyddelan kicked off at 8pm in the middle of December 1895 and did not end until midnight when the players finally conceded defeat in their battle against darkness and was followed by complaints from locals who cited trespassing and noise. A year later Llandinam Half-Holiday were formed and entered in the Newtown Medal against clubs raised from Newtown factories and mills. Llandinam, having dropped the Half-Holiday suffix, continued to play in the medal and friendlies for several more years and were seemingly a strong team beating local rivals Caersws 9-1 on Boxing Day 1900 and drew with Llanidloes Town the following year. The Llandinam team of the early 21st century included J Griffiths; J Davies, R B Hamer, E Wilding. E Manuel, A Rees, R Jones, E Humphreys, C Hamer, K Watkins and Ll Thomas. Certainly the Llandinam team was regarded highly by the local press which had come to champion the establishment of a Mid Wales League. An editorial in the Montgomeryshire County Times called for Llandinam, Llanidloes, Aberystwyth, Towyn, RWW Newtown and Welshpool to form a league but it would not be until 1904 the Montgomeryshire League was born.
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Llandinam ended the inaugural season bottom of the table and folded the same season. Perhaps it is not surprising given the events of November 26, 1904 when the players were among the passengers of a train involved in a collision on the Cambrian Line in Forden. Thankfully nobody died in the accident but six people were injured. At 7.18pm a head-on collision at Forden station between the down 7.05pm Welshpool to Llanidloes passenger train and goods train from Machynlleth. The inquiry laid the blame squarely at station master Edwin Corfield who directed the up goods onto the down line at the behest of a local farmer who had been keen to unload horses on the good train he had bought at Machynlleth Fair and believed he had enough time before the arrival of the oncoming train which had already set out from Welshpool. The loco crew had expected a clear run into the station and owing to foggy conditions had not seen the signals at danger until it was too late. The brakes had been applied and the train was slowed down but could not be stopped in time. Five passengers, the fireman of the goods engine and stationmaster Corfield were injured with the latter trampled on by a horse. The news of the accident reached soon reached Welshpool where a relief party was despatched. The County Times reported: ‘The noise of the collision was so great as to be heard three miles away at Garthmyl by Mr E. R. Owen and his son, both of whom proceeded at once to the scene of the
And so marked the end of Llandinam Football Club for five decades. The club reformed in 1955 and enjoyed several seasons in the Montgomeryshire League before folding once again in 1965 and reforming again in 1968. However a year later the club withdrew from the Montgomeryshire League for the final time.
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The site of the 1904 rail crash (Ben Brooksbank/Geograph)
Porterbrook adds Long Marston Rail Innovation Centre to its portfolio Porterbrook, the UK rolling stock owner and asset manager, has announced that it has added the Long Marston Rail Innovation Centre to its portfolio of railway assets. The Long Marston Rail Innovation Centre covers 135 acres, offering a two-mile circular test track and over 12 miles of secure train storage facilities, which are connected to the national rail network. Porterbrook plans to significantly invest and upgrade the on-site facilities to benefit customers and suppliers across the rail industry, as well as bringing new jobs and skills to the area. The site is located just outside Stratford-upon-Avon, and falls within the Warwickshire, West Midlands and Midlands Connect boundaries. Long Marston is Porterbrook’s first operational and delivery facility. It compliments the company’s existing London HQ and its East Midlands engineering design and asset management centre, which is located in Derby, at the heart of Britain’s railway. Porterbrook’s existing partners, Chrysalis
and the University of Birmingham, will remain on site. Over time, they will be joined by other businesses who share an ambition to transform Long Marston into a leading centre for railway innovation. Porterbrook’s Chief Executive, Mary Grant, said: “I am delighted to bring Long Marston and its skilled people into the Porterbrook family. Our decision to add this extensive facility into our portfolio means that this site now has firm strategic direction and a secure long-term future. To meet the ambitions set-out by the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail, we need to have an unremitting focus upon sustainable delivery, innovation and collaboration. Porterbrook is committed to supporting this ambition, and our new Long Marston Rail Innovation Centre will help to achieve this,”
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Eversholt Rail unveils new Class 321 Swift Express Freight train Eversholt’s new Swift Express Freight train, which has been converted from a classic Class 321 train, will offer a cost-effective, low carbon solution for rail freight deliveries into city centres. The conversion began in early 2021, with Eversholt Rail – supported by Ricardo and Wabtec UK – carrying out the works at Wabtec’s Doncaster facility. The programme to convert the classic Class 321 into an express freight train has now been successfully completed, and the train is service-ready. The train has been designed to maximise capacity for parcels and light goods whilst ensuring that the interior is flexible to meet individual customers’ operational requirements. The scope of works includes the removal of passenger features and the installation of new flooring and industry standard fixings throughout. The volume of parcels delivered across the UK continues to increase. Rising van and lorry traffic is increasing congestion, carbon emissions and air quality issues, whilst also posing a significant problem for logistic companies and impacting deliveries into city centres. C321 Swift Express Freight will provide fast and reliable rail services, encouraging modal shift and contributing toward the target of net-zero emissions by 2050. Paul Sutherland, Client Services Director at Eversholt Rail said: “We are proud to see the first Swift Express Freight train completed and ready for service. Collaborating with both Ricardo and Wabtec on this project has delivered a train that will demonstrate the potential for a cost-effective, low carbon solution to meet the growing demand for the home delivery of parcels around the UK and contribute towards the 2050 net-zero emissions targets. We look forward to seeing the Swift Express Freight train running in service in summer 2021.”
Jonathan Brown, Technical & Innovation Engagement Lead (Rail) at Ricardo said: “It’s been immensely enjoyable to be part of the Swift Express Freight team with Eversholt Rail and Wabtec. The project required significant collaboration between all stakeholders in order to successfully deliver a viable, low-carbon solution within the timescale. I can’t wait to see the vehicle in service and making a positive impact on sustainable logistics.” Andy Derbyshire, Group Managing Director at Wabtec UK, said: “It is great to see the recent efforts of our collaboration with Eversholt Rail and Ricardo come to fruition. Our team in Doncaster has done a superb job in delivering this important milestone project, and we look forward to seeing the train produce genuine carbon and cost reductions.”
Talgo launch legal action after losing out on a contract for HS2 TALGO missed out on a contract to supply rolling stock for HS2 but it won’t derail their plans for the old power station site at Longannet.
Despite their losing bid – and launching legal action in relation to the tendering process – the Spanish company said they were still on track to deliver a train-building factory at Kincardine which will create 1,000 jobs. The HS2 contract would have allowed them to “push the button” and start building the Longannet plant earlier but it’s not the end of the line. A spokesperson for Talgo said: “When we first came forward with plans, people thought it was all predicated on this one bid but Talgo are pursuing other orders from around the world and there are other interesting opportunities in the British Isles. “It’s not only building for the UK market but also building for export that is really uppermost in our minds.” And, with both Spanish train-building factories at or near full capacity, plenty of old stock that needs replaced and renewed interest in rail travel both here and in Europe, there’s a need for the factory at Longannet with or without HS2 contracts. The spokesperson insisted: “We continue with the exact same enthusiasm. We have huge support from the Scottish Government and on a daily basis we’re
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working with Scottish Enterprise and others to push our plans forward.” Rather than an assembly line production, with parts shipped in from around the world, Talgo believe their factory, as well as plans for apprenticeships and a technology centre, will create high-quality jobs and opportunities. The spokesperson added: “It may take a little longer but we are undeterred from our goal of bringing true manufacturing to the area, with raw materials, construction and manufacturing going in one end and real trains coming out the other end. “Our strategy is really strong and we fervently believe we will be successful in building a plant in Longannet as the orders come in.” The High Speed Two (HS2) project to build a new high-speed railway linking up London, the Midlands and the north, will also connect to existing lines to Scotland. Talgo put in a bid to provide HS2 with rolling stock, such as locomotives, coaches and freight wagons, but were informed by HS2 they would not be continuing to the next stage of the procurement process. The company launched legal action and an out-of-court settlement has been reached with HS2 Ltd. Jon Veitch, Talgo UK managing director, said: “After proceedings were commenced in March by Talgo against HS2 Ltd concerning the rolling stock manufacture and maintenance procurement for HS2, the parties have agreed to a mutually-acceptable resolution of these claims. “Talgo remains fully committed to the UK rail industry and wishes HS2 well in delivering this significant and important project.” German manufacturer Siemens have also launched a legal action against HS2, filing a procurement claim last month.
Corporation. Arkle specialises in acquiring non-core divisions from corporates, then growing the businesses organically and through ongoing strategic acquisitions such as Aquarius. Director Steven Bell from Castle Square advised Arkle on the transaction. The acquisition of Aquarius alongside the existing investment in Permaquip makes the combined group a key supplier to the rail maintenance sector as we target further investment in the group.” Led by corporate partner Sonia Jordan, London based Brecher provided legal advice and support to Arkle Partners on the transaction. At approximately 12:30 in the afternoon on Thursday 14th January the relentless heavy snow fall had brought down a large tree track side which a train had later collided with. The impact of this collision meant two signalling location cabinets had been knocked over. A rapid response was needed to ensure minimal delay. During the course of the next 72 hours that followed the Network Rail Leeds S&T team utilised the Aquarius Rail Road2Rail4x4 & Road2Rail Trailer to transport railway personnel, materials & tools backwards and forwards to the site of the impact.
Pledge Over Rail Work Disruption Officials say they will work to ‘keep disruption to a minimum’ with a town’s level crossing being closed for two months. Advance notice has been put out about the work as officials seek to minimise the impact on local residents The work, which is set to begin in Craven Arms later this summer, will see
diversions put in place while the road is closed. It involves the renewal of three miles of railway track that runs through Craven Arms station, on the Marches line between Newport and Shrewsbury. With the work due to take place near to the level crossing on Long Lane, it will be temporarily closed for safety reasons. Pedestrians will be able to use the crossing when work is not taking place, but it will remain closed to vehicles for the duration. Preparation for the work, which will take place during four weekends in September and October, has already begun at the site located by the tracks behind the business park, at the end of Callow Hill Road. Network Rail Project Manager, Andrew Hayward, said: “This vital work is to replace the section of railway that guides trains from one track to another, as the current equipment is nearing the end of its life. It will also upgrade the signalling system at the level crossing to improve safety. We apologise in advance for any inconvenience we cause and will do all that we can to keep disruption to a minimum.” Steve Charmley, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for highways, said: “We appreciate that this work will cause disruption while the road is closed, and we want to minimise any inconvenience caused. We’re working closely with Network Rail to ensure that local people and businesses are aware of the work, and to ensure that appropriate diversion routes and traffic management measures are in place whilst work is being carried out.” One of the Aquarius rail/road vehicles in use clearing a fallen tree
A New Age of Aquarius! A North Yorkshire company that provides vehicles for the rail maintenance sector has been acquired in a deal advised on by Castle Square Corporate Finance. Arkle Partners has completed the acquisition of Aquarius Railroad Technologies. Aquarius, established in 1999 and based in North Stainley, near Ripon, has developed a range of rail and road to rail transport vehicles that are used across the rail maintenance sector. Arkle, founded by entrepreneur Mark Sargent, is a strategic investor that seeks to acquire and invest in companies that offer niche products and services. The acquisition of Aquarius will allow the Arkle group to further extend its services within the rail sector, having acquired rail maintenance equipment supplier Permaquip in 2010 from Harsco
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RAILWAY NEWS FROM AROUND THE GREAT WESTERN REGION GBRf & MSC UK drive sustainability with new 5-year rail deal
GB Railfreight (GBRf) and Mediterranean Shipping Company (UK) Ltd. (MSC) are delighted to announce a new five-year deal, further strengthening their long-established relationship and joint commitment to delivering sustainable solutions for customers. GBRf has been a provider of rail services to MSC since 2002. Their knowledge and expertise in supplying locomotives and wagons combined with MSC’s extensive line haulage services enables the two companies to deliver market leading doorto-door services to their customers. The new agreement will be volume-based and is expected to increase wagon utilisation that in turn will help further reduce carbon emissions. MSC commented: “MSC is once again delighted to confirm a new five year deal with GBRf who have been supporting MSC with our Intermodal rail services since 2002. Our priority was to continue to offer unparalleled capability and flexibility to our line haulage customers in a fast paced and ever evolving UK intermodal market. Increased wagon utilisation was a key component from the start and engagement with ports and inland terminals to support this initiative took place early on. We are delighted that our new shared contract will allow both MSC and GBRf to continue our work in taking steps to reduce CO2 emissions by moving containers via rail, closer to final destination.” The services will operate from Felixstowe and London Gateway to both the Midlands and Yorkshire , with a minimum commitment of 5 days a week. Over the course of the next five years, the deal will remain agile and be able to provide flexibility to changing market dynamics while supporting MSC’s intermodal volume growth. John Smith, Managing Director at GB Railfreight, said: “We are thrilled to have signed this contract with MSC. They are a longstanding partner and one of the leading shipping and logistics companies in the world, and we are delighted to be able to continue working with them for the next five years. “Given MSC’s projected future growth we have struck a flexible agreement which will allow both parties to make better use of the services we share. As a business we always put the clients first and we are delighted to be able to cater to MSC’s needs with this contract renewal. “With the economic picture looking uncertain, I am pleased we will continue working with MSC – a move which shows that the rail freight market is in good shape
and will be needed more than ever as we begin the road back to recovery.” With proven records of ability to adapt to fast-paced, changing economic and market climates, both GBRf and MSC will be further supporting their customers’ supply chains with increased stability, flexibility and sustainability. The new flow, which aims to deliver freight users a secure, direct link to vital consumer and manufacturing regions in the West Midlands and south of England, commenced today (28th June 2021), and runs six days a week from Monday to Saturday with a total transport capacity of 87 TEU in each direction. GBRf now operates eight intermodal services into Maritime’s rail terminals in Manchester, Wakefield, East Midlands Gateway, and BIFT, demonstrating both companies’ commitment to growth in the UK rail freight sector. Additionally, the commencement of a new daily connection will result in a considerable reduction in CO2 emissions, saving over 4,000,000 road miles per year in an increasingly-congested road network. The acquisition of Roadways Container Logistics in 2014 saw Maritime acquire BIFT as part of the deal. Container throughput at the terminal has increased significantly over the years due to additional services, continued investment in stateof-the-art container handling equipment, and vastly-improved turnaround times. In 2011, BIFT saw an average weekly volume of 1,000 containers, rising to 2,500 in 2020, and now boasts an average vehicle turnaround time of just 26 minutes. Businesses across the country directly benefit from five daily intermodal services at BIFT, connecting London Gateway, Southampton and Felixstowe to the Midlands, with a dedicated operational team of thirty on-
site 24/7 to ensure the smooth running of each service. Latest investments at the facility include major civil works, crane refurbishments, and two new ESC450 straddle carriers supplied by Kalmar Ltd.
Total Rail Solutions switches to Green Fuel Total Rail Solutions, the complete rail service provider, has made a significant announcement that will see the company become the first hirer in the rail sector to stop fuelling its plant and machinery with diesel. Instead from the summer of 2021, it will supply customers working on the rail network, with one of the cleanest fuels on the market, Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO), supplied by Crown Oil. So, what is HVO fuel? HVO (Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil) is an advanced, second generation renewable diesel alternative that eliminates up to 90% of net CO2 emissions and significantly reduces nitrogen oxide (NOx), particulate matter (PM) and carbon monoxide (CO) emissions. As a direct drop-in alternative to fossil diesel fuel, HVO meets the EN15940 standard for paraffinic fuels and Fuel Quality Directive 2009/30/EC Annex II as well as meeting the sustainability requirements of the Renewable Energy Directive. With a wide range of OEM approvals, the greener and cleaner product is a proven, simple and cost-effective solution to help Total Rail Solutions commit to reducing its emissions. Crown Oil’s Technical Manager, Simon Lawford said “We’re thrilled to be supplying HVO to the rail industry and hope that other organisations follow in Total Rail Solutions’ green tracks. There is
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no better time to make the switch to HVO fuel to effortlessly achieve greenhouse gas reductions without any further investment, modifications or upgrades needed for your engines.” Total Rail Solutions CEO Paul Bateman said “The announcement that TRS will cease its supply of diesel fuelled machines and instead provide the environmentally friendly alternative, is of great importance to myself, my team and the business. We have all seen the science and the G7 nations negotiations to reduce the use of fossil fuels to deliver on the global climate change objectives, this significant step will benefit many.” Continuing Mr Bateman said “TRS are delighted to be the first provider in the rail sector to take this action. The operational process to transfer is relatively straightforward as the new HVO fuel can be mixed in the tank with any residual, until the supply becomes pure, so there will be no disruption in supply or down time on site.” Made from 100% renewable raw materials, HVO is manufactured purely from waste materials and is fully certified by the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC) This demonstrates the product’s true sustainability, meaning that during production, the impact on the environment is greatly reduced. No land is used that has been claimed for other and no animals or key aspects of the eco system are displaced. The fuel is also fully biodegradable and non-toxic. Concluding Mr Bateman said “At TRS our average annual fossil fuel consumption in plant is 500,000 litres, in launching this initiative we anticipate a reduction of up to 90%, giving a net reduction in our average annual emissions of up to 90%. In addition, HVO is sulphur free, so not only is it cleaner for the environment, but it is also kinder and less corrosive in our engines. So as a derived benefit, customers will see further value with year-round performance, as HVO fuel works well in lower temperatures.” “Today we continue our innovation program and plan, this announcement
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further aligns TRS with the 2020-50 Network Rail Environmental Sustainability Strategy and the Williams-Shapps plan to reform Britain’s railway, we look forward to working with our partners and stakeholders to deliver a greener, cleaner and more sustainable network.”
University of Southampton wins funding for research to reduce the environmental impacts of rail travel The University of Southampton is one of several organisations to receive funding from the Government’s £9 million “First of a Kind” competition to make the railways cleaner, greener and more passenger-friendly. The IMAGE (Innovative composite Mast for Greener Electrification) project is a collaboration between industry and academia to develop a lightweight, low carbon composite support structure for electrification wires. The University’s School of Engineering will develop foundation designs to reduce the use of costly and CO2-intensive steel
and concrete, and speed up installation. Professor David Richards, Head of the School of Engineering at the University of Southampton, said: “To meet its decarbonisation objectives, Network Rail has to electrify 13,000km of UK track by 2050. This project will offer a significant reduction in the mass of the support masts, but the real benefits lie in the cumulative positive effects of reducing the size of the foundations, cutting the cost and embedded carbon involved in reducing transport emissions.” “Decarbonisation of transport infrastructure and the way we use it, to help avert the climate catastrophe, is a major goal and we are proud to contribute to this project.”
Getech to Partner Eversholt in Hydrogen Infrastructure Leeds-based geoscience services business Getech has signed an agreement with Eversholt Rail to develop hydrogen infrastructure for the UK’s railway. H2 Green, a wholly owned subsidiary of Getech, has signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding with Eversholt Rail. The companies will work together to determine the production and refuelling infrastructure required to support widescale deployment of hydrogen-powered trains. The next stage of the strategic partnership will invovle the development of commercial propositions for rail hydrogen supply systems, which H2Green and Eversholt Rail plan to present to transport operators, infrastructure companies, and relevant government departments and
Jonathan Copus, chief executive at Getech, said: “Hydrogen has been designated a strategic fuel by the UK Government
RAILWAY NEWS FROM AROUND THE GREAT WESTERN REGION
and it is set to play a key role in the decarbonisation of commercial transport.
Getech is working to accelerate hydrogen adoption by using our location analytics to identify optimal sites to develop hydrogen production, storage, and refuelling networks. We are also progressing multiple discussions with potential anchor customers. “For rail companies operating in remote locations, there is a compelling economic and business rationale to be both early adopters and large volume customers of green hydrogen. We are therefore pleased to be working in partnership with Eversholt Rail, a leading UK railway rolling stock owner, to advance the infrastructure essential to supporting wide-scale deployment of hydrogen-powered trains.” Getech exercised an option to acquire H2 Green earlier this year following on from the signing of a strategic partnership agreement.
Chiltern Railways Testing a Hybrid Rolls Royce Engine Chiltern Railways, which operates services out of Marylebone station, has started testing a train fitted with a special sort of Rolls Royce engine. The Chiltern train has been fitted with a Rolls Royce MTU hybrid drive which can run on normal diesel power at speed, but switches automatically to battery storage when travelling slowly, such as when at a railway station. Senior managers from Porterbrook and Chiltern Railways The hybrid engine is being supplied by Rolls Royce combines an MTU diesel engine, built to EU Stage V requirements, with an electric unit that can function both as a motor and as a generator, and with the MTU EnergyPack battery system that stores energy recovered during braking. The hybrid engine is said to reduce power consumption by 20 per cent, which is good for the railway, but from a passenger perspective, switching to batteries when close to railway stations improves air quality for passengers waiting at stations. Data suggests potential reductions of 20% in fuel consumption and circa 70% in NOx emissions on Chiltern services between London and Birmingham. In addition to improved air quality and reduced noise, HybridFLEX units also expected to deliver journey time and route capacity improvements, as the combination of die-
sel and electric power will offer enhanced acceleration capabilities. The Rolls Royce MTU hybrid drives are also expected to produce maintenance savings through reduced ‘wear and tear’ on consumables, such as brake pads and discs. The test train is owned by the rolling stock leasing firm, Porterbrook. The HybridFLEX battery-diesel train is currently undertaking a programme of tests prior to being returned to Chiltern in the summer.
Network Rail introduces composite railway sleepers at Sherrington Viaduct The introduction of composite railway sleepers will enable Network Rail to reach its Zero Carbon 2050 target The UK’s Network Rail has laid the first composite railway sleepers on its main line tracks across the Sherrington
Viaduct, spanning between Salisbury and Warminster. Beginning 31 July 2021, creosote-treated softwood sleepers will be banned in the country. The new sleepers are manufactured by sustainable infrastructure product supplier Sicut using locally sourced plastic waste. Wooden sleepers were previously installed on the viaduct as concrete was too heavy for the structure. UK Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris said: “Not only are these sleepers made from locally sourced plastic waste, but they also need less maintenance and will last longer, underlining our commitment to creating a greener, cleaner and more efficient rail network.” This initiative is expected to help the company reach its Zero Carbon 2050 target by minimising greenhouse gas emissions by around 40% for at least five decades. Compared with timber sleepers, they provide an increase in service life, resulting in the reduction of overall expenses and the risks associated with the staff attending the site.
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How About this as a Headache for the European Parcel Service!
This is a new high speed train built by Talgo in Spain and sent to Uzbekistan
automatically analysed data to determine the point of delay, identify which trains would be affected and select the appropriate contingency plans to get the services back on track. The intelligent tool is designed with machine learning techniques to significantly reduce the time to analyse and process the data. Professor Chris Simms, KTP Academic Lead, said: “Automatic detection of delays represents the future of the rail sector. This project has made an important first step in realising the potential represented by machine learning to mitigate railway delays.” The tool is currently being used within the SWR Control Centre, which is responsible for controlling the movement of trains across the network. “Working with the University of Portsmouth has been an excellent experience for SWR and has transferred understanding into the business on systems development and AI,” explained Chris Prior, Head of Control Projects at SWR. “Together we have developed a system which improves the speed to response to recover late running, learn from and continuously improve SWR customer’s experience.”
Nestlé’s Glass Train shifts more cargo from road to rail (First Group plc)
SWR and University of Portsmouth develop algorithm to reduce rail delays In news that will bring good news to many commuters, the first algorithm to detect delays automatically on the tracks has been developed. The intelligent tool was developed by researchers at the University of Portsmouth in conjunction with First MTR South Western Railway (SWR) via a twoyear knowledge transfer partnership (KTP), funded by Innovate UK. With more than 1,700 trains operating on SWR’s rail network across Southern England daily, minimising disruption to rail travel is challenging. It is difficult for controllers to detect delays
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promptly, which leads to further delays in selecting contingency plans. SWR is a joint venture between FirstGroup and MTR Europe, two of the world’s leading train companies. With approximately 235 million passenger journeys a year, the SWR franchise is the largest and busiest in the UK railway network. Despite large increases in passenger numbers, trains and crews, rail operators have been using the same systems and technology for decades. “As a commuter myself, I’m delighted to be able to contribute to this project that will improve the customer experience,” said Dr Edward Smart, KTP Academic Supervisor. “It highlights the impact that machine learning algorithms can have for real world applications.” University researchers
In France, Nestlé Water is bringing more trains to the rails for the transport of reusable water bottles to and from the production site. The Glass Train project, as it is called, is also getting two more destinations; Arles in Southern France and Merrey in the country’s East. The 25 new trains will help the company remove up to 1,000 trucks off the road and save approximately 500 tons in CO2 emissions. Since last April, Nestlé Water has been using a rail freight solution between its factories and a logistics platform located in Western France and it is already seeing the added value. That is why it is expanding the project for its VITTEL and S.PELLEGRINO brands. The company will use the trains to transport reusable bottles from its factories to logistics and distribution centres. Moreover, after the bottles are used, they will return with the same trains to their production sites for cleaning and relabelling. “With Glass Train, we are committing to our customers to transport our natural mineral waters in the most virtuous way possible”, said Alexandre Varo, out-of-home sales director for Nestlé Waters France. its itineraries.
RAILWAY NEWS FROM AROUND THE GREAT WESTERN REGION
The LOHC technology allows an organic carrier liquid to draw in hydrogen and release it as per the requirement. Credit: © Siemens 1996 – 2021. Siemens Mobility has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with
Helmholtz Institute Erlangen-Nuremberg for Renewable Energy (HI ERN) to mutually conduct research on the use of liquid organic hydrogen carrier (LOHC) technology in the rail industry. The joint research will focus on finding
solutions for minimising emissions to meet the climate goals. The LOHC technology allows an organic carrier liquid to absorb hydrogen and release it according to requirements. This process helps in preventing hydrogen from escaping in a gaseous state and enables secure storage, facilitating its cheap transportation. LOHC also eliminates the need to store the hydrogen under high pressure or at low temperatures. This technology is also suited for the on-board production of electrical power in mobile applications such as trains. Siemens Mobility rolling stock CEO Albrecht Neumann said: “Hydrogen technology is a promising solution for making rail transport climate-neutral. And since sustainability has a very high priority for us at Siemens Mobility, we’re providing a Vectron locomotive for testing the LOHC technology.” To test the feasibility of the LOHC concept, the company will provide a Vectron mainline locomotive to HI ERN.
Rail revolution’ in Shropshire & Black Country could power up region
improved local connectivity for commuters into Birmingham. The study shows that trains could be running as fast as 90mph if the route were upgraded; an increase from a mix of 70mph and 50mph today. Residents using stations such as Smethwick Galton Bridge, Sandwell & Dudley, Dudley Port, Tipton, Coseley, Codsall, Shifnal, Bilbrook and Albrighton will also see benefits from this scheme – increased capacity on their services meaning less overcrowding at peak times and quicker journey times on improved rail infrastructure. The ‘Rails to Recovery’ study examined a combination of faster and more frequent train services, including the potential opportunity associated with extending a future (post Phase 1 of HS2) London Euston to Wolverhampton service. All this work provides the opportunity to realise the potential of the extra capacity released on the current network by HS2 for regions like the Black Country and Shropshire. Improving connectivity is critical to the post-COVID-19 recovery and regeneration of the towns and cities on the corridor, unlocking access to labour markets and new job opportunities. The scheme would also help safeguard and create jobs in the engineering and construction sectors. Analysis done by NSA Research for Midlands Connect shows that 337 jobs would be safeguarded and a further 81 jobs would be created if the project was implemented. A future scheme can be delivered in phases, with journey time improvements as a potential ‘quick win’ and eventually extending the London Euston to Wolverhampton service to Shrewsbury when HS2 Phase 1 opens.
By extending the service we also help tackle the acute over-crowding seen prepandemic, which is anticipated to return over time, and electrification would provide for cleaner and greener trains. Contributing to the region’s ‘Net Zero’ challenge, Midlands Connect believes 45 million diesel train miles could be converted to carbon neutral electric, saving 130,000 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent. There is widespread support for the idea in the community; 800 people in and around Wolverhampton were asked about the project in February 2021 and the scheme was supported by 91 per cent of respondents. Midlands Connect plans to fund the next stage of the project development. The report is just the first stage in the process and Midlands Connect will continue to build the case to a point where we can be confident in its strength and then seek capital investment from government. There is widespread support for the idea in the community; 800 people in and around Wolverhampton were asked about the project in February 2021 and the scheme was supported by 91 per cent of respondents. Midlands Connect Chief Executive, Maria Machancoses, said: “This work could create a rail revolution in the Black Country and Shropshire. I know from experience, using this train every day, how overcrowded it can be. The report lays out how businesses, commuters and residents will all benefit from an upgraded route as will our economy. This is the definition of a win-win project and can help take us from rails to recovery. We’ve started this process but we are picking up pace, and today is a first, critical stop, on our long journey.”
Midlands Connect is proposing that rail electrification, faster local trains and a new hourly train to London from Shrewsbury, would bring nearly £500 million of benefits to the UK economy. Regional transport body, Midlands Connect, has released a feasibility study that outlines nearly £500 million of benefits to the economy if the route through Telford and the Black Country is upgraded. Midlands Connect is proposing rail electrification, faster local trains and a new hourly train to London from Shrewsbury. Analysis by Midlands Connect, released as part of the study, shows that time savings to passengers are valued up to £377 million and the benefits of fewer cars on roads and other environmental benefits are worth up to £145 million. The report released on the 1 June 2021 is entitled ‘Rails to Recovery: Building Back Stronger’. The ‘Rails to Recovery’ study examined a combination of faster and more frequent train services, including the potential opportunity associated with extending a future (post Phase 1 of HS2) London Euston to Wolverhampton service. As well as providing higher frequencies between Shrewsbury, Wellington, Telford and Wolverhampton, the service could provide additional links to Birmingham International (for Birmingham Interchange HS2 Station and Birmingham Airport) and destinations towards London including Coventry, Rugby and Milton Keynes for people in Shropshire and the Black Country. The scheme will also mean that we have
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Return of the Stegosaurus!
(Severn Valley Railway)
Hydroshunter makes headway at Severn Valley Work is already underway at the heritage railway’s diesel depot at Kidderminster, near Birmingham, where a team of young volunteers are stripping down the Class 08 shunter. This includes removing the existing diesel engine and generators and overhauling other components, in preparation for the installation of the new power system in the coming months. Vanguard Sustainable Transport Solutions is designing the hydrogen-battery hybrid traction system at the University of Birmingham, which will consist of hydrogen cylinders, a hydrogen fuel cell stack and a hybrid battery. The cylinders will store hydrogen as a pressurised gas, which will be fed to the fuel cell stack via a regulator. In the fuel cell stack, hydrogen will be combined with oxygen from the air, to produce electricity to power the locomotive. Meanwhile, the battery will store energy to provide additional power for when it is needed. The equipment will be mounted on a sub-frame fitted to the existing engine mountings, and will supply the existing traction motors fitted in the Class 08, which will keep its existing controls. Testing of the hydrogen-power shunter locomotive will take place at Severn Valley Railway later this year. The development of such technology is predicted to have a global significance, and the teams are working towards translating it to heavy-haul applications. “As a heritage railway, we’re actively looking for ways to reduce our carbon footprint, and having a hydrogen-powered shunter will play a key part in that plan,” says Severn Valley Railway vice-chairman, Mr Mike Ball. “The group working on the 08 are all still in their teens, and their ability to plan and implement this task has been nothing short of amazing. They’re the volunteers of the future, working on a locomotive for the future.”
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(Phil Seymour) “Vanguard has developed the HydroShunter to enable cost-effective retrofitting of diesel locomotives with clean, modern hydrogen-battery traction systems,” says Mr Charles Calvert, chief engineer at Vanguard Sustainable Transport Systems. “Using hydrogen produced from renewable electricity, the Harrier will be a clean and quiet locomotive that just happens to also be an innovation superstar at work on one of the UK’s leading heritage railways.” Work to convert a Class 08 shunter from diesel to hydrogen power has passed a significant milestone, with the locomotive’s existing 350hp engine lifted out at the Severn Valley Railway’s Kidderminster diesel depot. Codenamed ‘Harrier Hydroshunter’, the project to carry out the UK’s first hydrogen conversion from a diesel shunter is a joint initiative between the University of Birmingham, Vanguard Sustainable Transport Solutions (VSTS) and the SVR. The locomotive selected for the conversion is 08635, and the railway hired in a 100-tonne crane to lift out the original English Electric EE6KT engine following extensive work to strip out components and remove nuts and bolts. Now the project can progress to the next stage, the installation of a hydrogen-battery hybrid traction system which is being developed at the University of Birmingham. The lift of the shunter engine was preceded by the removal of the 34-tonne 2700hp engine from a Class 50. The power unit for 50033 ‘Glorious’ will now have a replacement generator fitted.
Innovative engineers at DB Cargo UK’s maintenance depot in Stoke are busy converting a set of 29 unused BYA wagons into open hot coil wagons – dubbed ‘The Stegosaurus’ due to its striking profile! Tata Steel has recently seen an increase in demand for open hot coil wagons, so DB Cargo UK set about exploring ways to optimise its existing fleet of covered wagons to ensure it could continue to fulfil its customer’s requirements. The challenge was given to DB’s crossbusiness Wagon Innovation Group which came up with the concept of removing the doors from the BYA wagons and adapting the coil beds inside. The MK1 prototype which was completed in early 2020, was sent for live testing with Tata Steel, receiving only mixed reviews. For the new modular type set-up, the wagon ends were fully removed to give better access for cranes during loading. Robust dividers were also added into the well of the wagon, giving secure pockets for various sizes of coil dependent on what the customer was transporting. Obsolete items were also removed from the wagon to maintain the tare weight and keep payloads at previous levels. Along with this more in-depth transition to flexible coil transport, GTS also designed a set of dividers which could be swapped into the vehicles to allow the transport of steel slab. The ability to utilise the same wagons on either open coil or slab traffic would have the benefit of increasing utilisation of the asset while reducing the reliance on older, life-expired steel wagons, as the BYAs were also some 30 years younger than the current open fleet. The wagon - BYA 966050 was returned to Stoke for rework which was completed to coil specification in April this year. The wagon is now out in traffic with Tata and has received very positive feedback. A full roll-out of the MK2 prototype has now been given the green light and Stoke will convert a further 29 wagons during 2021 with the ability to have either coil or slab spec as required. The production line to convert all 29 wagons has now been established, with a number of additional staff recruited to fulfil the conversion.
Shrewsbury Severn Bridge Junction Signal Box Given a New Lease of Life after almost 120 years
On Friday July 16th thanks to the courtesy of Network Rail’ Wales & Western: Wales & Borders, I was given the opportunity to visit this increasingly famous signal box – I say famous because for a number of years it has been the largest mechanical signal box in the UK, following the closure of Newton Abbot East in 1987 and then, with closure of Spencer Street box in Melbourne, Australia in 2011, it became the largest mechanical signal box in the world. However, even with this number of levers (180) it still came a long way short of the biggest frame in the UK - York Locomotive Yard which had space for 295 levers when it was installed in 1909!
The principal station in Shrewsbury, originally known as Shrewsbury General, was built in 1848 for the county’s first railway – the Shrewsbury to Chester Railway. One of the unusual features of the station is that it was built on an elevated level until 1899-1903 when the station was extended by building down and construction of a new floor
underneath the original building. The building style was imitation Tudor, complete with carvings of Tudor style heads around the window frames. This was done to match the Tudor building of Shrewsbury School almost directly opposite. The station's seven platforms extend over the River Severn. It was initially operated jointly by the GWR and the LNWR. The complexity of the railway system in the area was brought about by the convergence of five major lines at Shrewsbury. The station was built by two competing yet also co-operating railway companies (GWR and LNWR) who were competing to connect the coal supplies and raw material supplies of South Wales with the industrialised Midlands and NorthWest. There was also a second key requirement, namely, to transport passengers to and from London to the port of Liverpool. In 1921, the GWR and the Cambrian Railway amalgamated, and this then provided the GWR with access into mid- and West Wales. The five major lines were: Cambrian Railway (GWR) Shrewsbury to Chester Railway (GWR) Wolverhampton to Shrewsbury Railway (GWR) The Welsh Marshes Line: North to Crewe via the Crew & Shrewsbury Railway (LNWR) South to Newport via Shrewsbury and Hereford Railway (Joint) Also, to be added into this mix were the Severn Valley Railway (GWR) and the Stafford to Shrewsbury Line (LNWR).
Shrewsbury Station Signal Boxes
As might be imagined, with so many lines converging on the station, there was a need for a significant locomotive shed which was again a joint depot BR
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Fig. 3 Shrewsbury’s first signal box. This was the first in place when the Birmingham line opened in 1849 and to Ludlow in 1852, plus the carriage shed and sidings which were in the middle where the current box stands.The loop line was opened in 1875. (David Giddins)
(Midland) 4A and British Rail (Western) SALOP, 84G and 89A and finally 6D! This box is not the first box on this site. According to Richard Morris in his book – Rail Centres No 10 Shrewsbury – until the opening of the Shrewsbury & Hereford line, the signalling requirements in Shrewsbury were quite small. However, once this line was added to the picture, a signalbox had to be built at the new junction, originally called Wellington Junction, but later renamed Severn Bridge Junction. It was of a rather unusual, half-timbered design and stood at the south end of the bridge (Fig.3). A second signalbox was needed at Crewe Junction when the Crewe line opened and yet another at Sutton Bridge to control the two junctions off the Hereford line. A whistle code was introduced here, with one, two or three whistles required of engines coming in from the Severn Valley (1), Hereford (2) or Welshpool (3) lines. In addition, a green light had to be displayed on the buffer beams of engines working in from the Severn Valley and the Welshpool lines at night. At that time, all the signals in Shrewsbury were all the slotted semaphore type, mostly replaced by more modern semaphores at the end of the 1880s. Fig.5 An early plan of the track layout at Shrewsbury before the track widening at the turn of the century. There is a small turntable where the present box now stands but the engine shed and turntable were at the other end of the station.
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Fig.4 The overall gantry bridge replaced the first box and was in place when the loop opned in 1875 and the station got busier and prior to the bridge and station being widened over the river 1897 - 1902. (David Giddins)
The opening of the Abbey curve required two more signalboxes at English Bridge and Abbey Foregate junctions together with further boxes to control the various goods yards. In 1880, the station was completely resignalled and a new signal-cum-points box was built on the Severn viaduct on a gantry over the tracks. (Fig.4) The telegraph was installed on the Shrewsbury & Birmingham and the Shrewsbury & Chester lines by 1852 and the Hereford line had ben similarly treated by the 1860s. As can be seen from Fig.3, which is taken looking down from Shrewsbury Castle there is a small signal box on the right which is believed to be the first signal box built when the line to Birmingham opened in 1849 and to Ludlow in 1852. It stands where the present box is now situated. The second picture shows the overall gantry bridge that replaced it. and which was in place when the loop line opened in 1875, as traffic grew, and the seven-arch bridge and station were widened over the river (Fig.4). The rebuilding of the General station between 1899 and 1902 saw a radical resignalling programme. The 1880 box was dismantled and replaced by the present LNWR-pattern Severn Bridge Junction box. Another large box was needed at Crewe Junction, having 120 levers and a new Central Cabin box was built at the end of the island bay platforms to control internal workings in the station. The rebuilding of the station again in the early 1960s entailed a relocking of the Severn Bridge box, which lost several of its levers, but it took over the work of the old Central Cabin. The semaphore signals at Shrewsbury are a mixture of upper and lower quadrants but the Great Western pattern predominate. The present box was built in 1902-4 by the London and North Western Railway to an enlarged standard LNWR design of 1876. However, the original signalling interlocking equipment was installed by the GWR. After Nationalisation in 1947, this equipment was decommissioned, and the current interlocking equipment installed by BR’s Western Region. Ownership then changed again in 1963 when Shrewsbury became part of the LMS region. Since then, the WR-installed equipment has been augmented with smaller control units that provide electrical interlocking.
The railway junction which it serves lies directly south of the railway station and was constructed jointly by the GWR/LNWT following the completion of improvements to their jointly owned Shrewsbury & Hereford Railway, which at that point had a junction with the Wolverhampton to Shrewsbury line. To allow freight trains to move to and from South Wales to the Midlands and, hence, avoid passing through the station, a loop was added to form a tight triangular layout, south of the River Severn. Severn Bridge Junction signalbox is built of two storeys of red brick and cement, with a third (operating) floor of wooden weatherboard pin-panel containing glass windows, all topped by a Welsh slate pitched roof. Access is by a door at the rear of the box, with the two lower floors housing the interlocking equipment accessed by two internal wooden staircases. It’s interesting to look at comments made by J T Lawrence in the Railway Magazine in 1905, where he described Shrewsbury Station as a “switchboard” and claimed that more traffic was “interchanged and redistributed at Shrewsbury than at York. Whilst the chief importance of Shrewsbury Station lies in its various connections, it must not be supposed that local conditions are unimportant. The town is the centre of one of the chief agricultural districts in England and Wales.” On its name, Lawrence added: “There does not seem, at first sight, to be much connection between Shrewsbury Railway Station and the Severn Tunnel. In fact, to the casual observer, the only point of common interest would appear to be that the one goes under the river whilst the other stands on top of it. But, nevertheless, it is to the Severn Tunnel that Shrewsbury owes the position it claims as one of the most important distributing centres in the country – if not the most.” As mentioned above, in addition to this box, there are, or were, five other boxes within one mile: • Abbey Foregate Junction: located on the Wolverhampton line to allow access to the adjacent Abbey Foregate yard; its code is 'AF'. • Crewe Bank: closed 8 December 2012. • Crewe Junction • English Bridge: controlled the southside of the triangular junction through Coleham to Sutton Bridge Junction. Closed in 1953, its controls were transferred to Severn Bridge. • Harlescott Crossing: closed 8 December 2012
Fig.6 Abbey Foregate Junction and Signalbox
Fig.7 Crewe Bank Signalbox
Fig.8 Crewe Junction and Signalbox
The Signalling Equipment
A total of 31 steep and narrow steps take you past the Interlocking Equipment (17 steps) and a second staircase of 14 steps up to the operational floor, which houses a 180-lever interlocked frame, divided into two sections – Abbey Foregate to Sutton Bridge and Shrewsbury Station to Crewe Junction. With the rationalisation that has taken place over the last
Fig.9 Harlescott Crossing Signalbox (Figs.6, 7, 8and 9 by Dave Cousins)
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Fig.10 One of two identical signalling diagrams - one at each end of the box. Lever 98 Acceptance lever for Down Main Platform Lever 100 Acceptance lever for Down Main Lever 105 Interlocking levr for Up and Down Platforms Spares 1,2,3,4,6,7,8,9,10,12, 15,17,18,19,21,25,27,28,40,42,44,47,49,50,61,62,63,64,68,76,78,86,91, 92,93,102,106,111,112,113,115,119,120,127,128,129,130,134,136,137,138,142,145,146,147, 148,150,151,152,153,157,159,165,166,167,168,169 Spaces 36,37,89,90,144,146 Temporary Spares 14,30,32,33,39,48,52,57,58,59,138,140,141,149,155,156,164,177,179 Interlocking levers 54, 55, 154
20 years, only half the levers (89) are operational, but it still needs two signalmen to operate it. With the box being 100 feet long and having 180 levers, one signalman operates levers 1-87 and the second from 91-180. To a Great Western eye, the levers are unusual for they feature a loop on the front of the lever, unlike the Great Western pattern which has the locking mechanism as an ancillary lever at the rear of the main lever. Another difference is that, unlike the Great Western practice of using a cloth to protect the bright shiny top of the lever, these levers have a plain steel top which does not need protection from the grease and acidity of human sweat. Network Rail currently believes that to simplify this system to allow it to be remotely controlled through coloured-light signals would not be economical. Hence the current mechanical signalling system in the area is presently envisaged to remain in operation until at least 2030, and possibly as long as 2050 on current plans. Despite all the developments, the two signalmen are still responsible for signalling around 300 train movements per day (including freight and shunting movements). One of those signalmen is 29-year-old Jamie Green, who has worked at SBJ for just over a year now, having previously spent three years at nearby Leominster and Sutton Bridge Signalboxes. He is one of a company of seven based at the box who each work a mixture of eight- and 12-hour shifts, including days and nights, on seven-week rosters.
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“I work up to lever 87, and my colleague will go from 91 upwards,” says Green. “This place is fairly unusual these days in being double-manned, but with 92 levers to operate it keeps us fairly busy and you soon work through the shoe leather. I eat dreadfully, but I don’t think I’ll ever be overweight because you’re never in your chair for more than 20 minutes. If you are then something somewhere has gone badly wrong.” Severn Bridge Junction is known as a Grade 5 signal box, owing to its size and complexity. Green explains that it is rare for a new signalman to be handed a box of this grade as his or her first assignment - a steadier progression is the more usual route. For him, that meant starting life in April 2014 on Grade 2 at Leominster, before stepping up to the Grade 4 box at Sutton Bridge. He says this was the perfect preparation for working a box on the magnificent scale of Severn Bridge Junction. “It took me about a month to pass out on this box,” he adds. “It’s easy to be daunted by all the levers and bell codes and Absolute Block, but it’s all the usual rules of anywhere else. You can’t just come up here from the street, though, and I thought I’d never be able to work this SB, but you just get on with it until it becomes second nature.” Green also puts his skills to use in his own time as a volunteer signaller at both the Severn Valley and Bala Lake heritage railways, plus as a conductor at the National Tramway Museum in Crich. A cost of £200 million has been suggested that NR would need to develop a more robust business
Fig.12 Two of the remaining GWR Lower Quadrant signals
Fig.11 Severn Bridge Junction with GWR King Class 6000 King George V using the triangle toturn its train. Two of the LNWR/LMS signals can be seen
case before it decides to sweep away the semaphores in Shrewsbury, and close four signalboxes that are functioning perfectly well. It would be expensive to resignal here, and then you’d need to do it again in 30 years’ time because that’s the lifespan of modern signalling equipment and CPUs. Being mechanical means that it can still work in a power cut and there are no fears about cyber security. How long the box is kept operational remains to be seen, but as a Grade 2-listed building its physical existence is at least guaranteed as a permanent reminder of this old-fashioned - but extremely resilient - way or working.
The 2020-2021 Facelift
As can be imagined, after a lifetime of service of almost 120 years in all weathers, the box was beginning to look a little tired. It had become a Grade II Listed structure in 1991: SJ4912NE Severn Bridge Junction Signal Box at 653-1/12/4 SJ 496 126 23/01/91 (Formerly Listed as: Severn Bridge Junction Box) GV II Signal box, LNWR type 4. 1903. For The London and North Western and Great Western Railway Joint Committee. Brick with glazed timber upper storey; gabled Welsh slate roof. Narrow rectangular plan. 3 storeys. 6-bay range housing locking room with interlocking frame, and operating floor above. Blocked groundfloor windows and small segmental-arched onelight first-floor windows set in recessed panels with dentilled cornicing; brackets to walkway set around cabin of operating floor, which has horizontally sliding sashes. Gable end entry. INTERIOR: interlocking frame of 180 levers of London and North Western Railway design, and block instruments on shelf. Part of an outstanding group of buildings including Shrewsbury Railway Station (qv) and Crewe Junction Signal Box (qv), built as part of a single improvement scheme for Shrewsbury Station. Listing NGR: SJ4960012600
Fig.13 The typical GWR/BR(W) clock (double-sided)
When it became obvious that work was needed, funding was sought and £250,000 was obtained, including money from the Railway Heritage Trust, all of which was used to allow the structure to be made weather-proof. The work was carried out by Network Rail and MPH Construction and engineers worked for more than 300 days restoring this crucial part of the railway infrastructure, which is a vital link for passengers and freight travelling between Wales & Borders and the rest of Britain. One of the key improvements was to replace the original single-glazed windows with new doubleglazed units. Darren Peake, a signalman at Network Rail commented, “I have been working in this signal box for around 13 years and I can tell you these improvements will make a huge difference to us, including being warmer in the winter with the new windows. We used to have to put pieces of paper in the gaps of the old ones. In fact, when they replaced the windows, they found newspaper cuttings behind the frames from the 1960's!” Other improvements include new timber cladding on the third floor as well as repairs to the external walkway and a full exterior paint job – including the famous “Shrewsbury” signs that greet passengers travelling in and out of the historic town by train. The repairs to the gantry created a significant problem, as Darren McKenna, Asset Engineer with Network Rail was keen to point out, "It's not until you can get up close to this iconic structure that
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Fig.14 A View along the operating floor
Fig.15 Part of the locking framework on the first floor
you can appreciate how well built and unique it is. Working on this refurbishment was an absolute pleasure. The gantry repair was a big job and involved rope access teams working day and night to strengthen and replace the boards.” Gareth Ellis, Construction Manager at MPH Construction Ltd, added: “We started on site in October last year and knew that this was going to be a challenging project; restoring a Grade II listed building, working at height, and being completely surrounded by track. However, we couldn’t turn down the opportunity to work on this iconic piece of railway infrastructure and even carried out some extra works, such as renewing the eye-catching Shrewsbury sign for passengers to see. Our original
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Fig16 Scaffolding over the box!
scheme was to replace the 100-year-old wooden sash windows, which were single-glazed, were leaking, and letting the draughts in. Because the building is Grade II listed, we had to get everything approved beforehand by the Conservation Officer. We then replaced the sash windows with new hardwood double-glazed units. One of the problems that we
Fig.17 (left) The carefully restored sign Fig.18 Your editor enjoing the visit!
faced throughout the work was getting materials on site as the building is surrounded by live tracks. Fortunately, on the Abbey Foregate side there is a track up from Abbey Foregate to allow Network Rail staff to access the site. We brought the materials up by lorry, unloaded them and then carried it all by hand across the walkway to the box. Each sash required two men as the windows were fully glazed and weighed about 70kg. We then had to install an electric lift to take them up to the gantry that surrounds the box at third floor level. Because the tracks are busy all day and at night, we had to get a “Line “Block”, generally on a Friday or Saturday night to carry this out.” “The next work was to replace a lot of the cladding, which, again, after more than 100 years was beginning to rot and to leak. We replaced this with new hardwood cladding and decorated it. Another problem which had not been foreseen was that the gantry was tilting out of the horizontal. This was supported by 78 gallows brackets which penetrated the wall of the box, through the skirting boards with simply washer plates on the inside. The problem was that these brackets are integral with the handrails and so were critical. We pulled these up to the horizontal and fixed angle brackets on the inside to reinforce them. Once this had been done, we decorated it all and cleaned and repainted the two “Shrewsbury” signs on the front and back of the box – the first thing that visitors see when entering or leaving the station.” Because of the nature of the work, we obviously required a large amount of scaffolding which required manhandling on to site. One problem was
that the box was in use throughout our work and the rods and wires for operating the points and signals on both sides of the box leave at ground level and so we had to build a bridge over all the rodding and wires in order that S&T staff had access at all times. Once up at gallery level, we discovered that the wooden cladding under the gantry had to be refurbished and, to do this, we had to use painters who were qualified to work hanging from ropes! Finally, while we were refurbishing the floor of the gantry, this included reflooring the Signalmens’ toilet which is mounted on the gantry. However, we obviously could not leave them without a toilet, so we had to supply a temporary one, albeit at ground level. This had to brought in and out on a trolley as it was simply too heavy to lift manually! However, not only did they have a new wooden floor, but it was given a vinyl layer and then equipped with a new toilet and hand basin – such comfort!” “In conclusion, this was probably one of the more challenging jobs that we have undertaken, largely because the signalbox had to be kept working at all times and because the box was surrounded by live tracks, thereby restricting access. In return, this was an important job on a building with a lot of history and heritage and it is certainly one that we would not have missed undertaking.” Andy Savage, executive director, Railway Heritage Trust, said: "We were delighted to give a grant towards the restoration of this iconic signal box, which clearly will have a long-term future. We congratulate the Network Rail team for their careful work in restoring the building.” In conclusion, my thanks go to Network Rail for enabling me to visit the box and relive memories from my teenage years, to Phil Lucas, Line Operating Manager, Network Rail for being my Guide, to the two signalmen, Paul Giles and Paul Jeffries for making me welcome and Gareth Ellis, Construction Manager for MPH Construction for providing me with the technical details of the work done. Finally, my thanks go to David Giddins from Shrewsbury and the Branch Line Society for giving me information and photographs on the historical side of the box.
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A Voice from the Signal Box (March 1874) or, Railway Accidents and Their Causes. Part One by A Signalman
My experience has clearly taught me that our Railway system is at present very defective, and it is with a view of bringing into prominence the causes thereof that I venture to pen the following lines. I have had eleven years’ experience as a signalman upon one of our chief railways, and the greater part of that time at one of the most frequented and complicated junctions to be found in this country, situated within a hundred miles of St. Paul's. My hours of duty are eight per day all the year round. Nearly five hundred trains pass my box in twenty-four hours, requiring the moving of four thousand eight hundred levers, and six thousand signals to be given on the block telegraph. If these are divided into three parts, it will be seen that I and my mates have each sixteen hundred levers to shift, and two thousand signals to give daily on the telegraph during the time we are on duty. This refers to ordinary times. In the busy seasons of the year, our work is increased by about one fourth, and upon extraordinary occasions it is nearly doubled. I will deal first with-
Accidents Caused Through the Insufficient Training of Signalmen.
On this Railway, I cannot speak for others but, from what I have learnt from other companies' servants, I believe it is the same elsewhere - the signalman's training is very imperfect, considering his very responsible duties. In a few weeks, or it may be in a few months after joining the service, he is sent to learn his future duties at a small station where the then signalman is, through some cause, about to leive or be removed. He may thus be placed at a very great disadvantage. Possibly, the man who teaches him has been called upon to resign through carelessness or inefficiency, and can it be expected, if he did not take any pains for his own benefit, that he will trouble himself for the benefit of others? The consequences are these:When the new beginner is asked the usual question by his superior, viz., "Are yon able to undertake your duties! " he, for fear of being considered longer than others in learning, and, at the same time, hoping soon to get a small
Published by Longmans, Green & Co 1874
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rise in his wages, will answer " Yes," although he may be very little better informed upon the principal points relative thereto than on the day that he first entered the signal-box. He departs from the head-office a signalman in name and, amid doubts and fears, takes to his new post , with the fullest intention of doing his best, no doubt ; but, alas! on account of his inefficiency, he may deal out death and destruction all around him. There are “careful" and attentive signalmen, and under the present system of teaching them their duties, the careless man is not found out until he has made some great blunder, and the careful man has often to suffer for the careless one. Suppose the man leaving be the careless one, and the man sent to take his place the careful one; perhaps the latter, with good and proper training, would be the right man in the right place ; but he may learn from his predecessor to make the following mistakes :Not properly to place signals at danger after a train has passed, thus allowing another train to follow too soon ; to let shunting take place across the main line when fast express trains are due; to neglect to telegraph to the next station on the passing of a train ; and other irregularities too numerous to mention. 31
Possibly none of these things have been pointed out to him in a proper manner; he may, therefore, make a mistake, and be sent for to headquarters, and most 1ikely dismissed from the company's service, his prospects being blighted for some time to come, for no fault of his own whatever, as we have seen. On the other hand, suppose the man leaving be a good and useful signalman, going to better himself, and the man sent to learn the duties a careless man, who pays but little attention to what is told him : the former is quite ready to show him all he can, but yet he may plainly see that this new hand is not the proper sort of man to make a good and trustworthy signalman. His time comes to leave; he has done his duty, and he leaves his post in charge of his successor, pretty well convinced that without a slice or two of good luck of good luck the consequences will be disastrous. But this is no business of his; he is seldom asked any questions upon the subject, nor is it any part of his duty to make a report of what he knows to be the fact under the present system. It is essential, therefore, that some good and experienced signalmen should be appointed to superintend the training of all new hands, remaining with them until they are able to give a favourable report to their superintendents, stating that the men thoroughly understand the responsible duties they are to perform. Moreover, a signalman's pay should be commensurate with his responsibilities. At present it is not so by any means, and I can emphatically assert that the dissatisfaction and inattention thus caused is a source of great danger.
Accidents Caused by Signalmen being Removed from a Level Box to an Elevated One Without Proper Training
The same causes which operate in preventing signalmen from learning their duties in the first instance lead to the following important faults in connection with their work when they are removed from a box level with the ground to an elevated one. They may learn which levers to pull over to let a train pass, but that is not all; the question is, when to pull them; and when they have been pulled, to know whether the points have answered the movements of the levers. For instance, when a pointsman is letting a train in or out of a siding by hand signal upon the ground, or attending to main line points, during shunting, he is generally upon the spot, and has, of course, the points 32
close under his eye, so that he can at once see whether they are properly closed or not. Very different is it in the high box, for the points may be a hundred, or a hundred and fifty, yards away. Between the lever in the box and the points, there are five or six cranks and double as many pins to connect them together, so that allowing for the wear and tear, it is generally found that between the lever and the points there is a certain amount of "loose motion" and this, combined with the weather, may greatly deceive the signalmen as to the position of the points. If you pull a lever to open distant points during the time it is raining, you will find that they move very easily ; but if you do the same thing after a hot sun, a dry wind, or a frost, and put an equal amount of power on the lever, you will find that it is not over in its proper place by, perhaps, two or three inches. Now, the man newly appointed to the high box, who has not had proper instruction, after giving the lever the usual pull, and finding that it does not come properly over, will most likely press it into its appointed place by the weight of his body; which pressure will, perhaps, be great enough to tighten up the "loose motion" previously referred to, and will allow him to get the lever into its proper position without moving the points any more after giving them the first pull. They will, therefore, be standing far enough open to throw the next train off the rails that approaches them in that (facing) direction. The man who knows his work, when he finds that a lever does not come over properly at the first pull, will put it back again, and give it a much sharper pull than before. This will, without doubt, have the desired effect, and should be done in all cases before a signal is lowered for a train to pass through the points. Accidents from the above cause are of daily occurrence, and they g: reatly impede the attainment of punctuality and endanger the lives of the public.
Accidents Caused Through the Imperfect Working of Distance Signals from the Main Box
These incidents arc particularly frequent upon those lines where "the “Disc" and "Cross Bar" signals are in use, as the leverage in the high box is much shorter than it is upon the ground, but the signalman is apt to consider that so long as he has got the lever into its appointed place, and the spring into its proper Great Western Star Summer 2021
groove or catch, after the passing of a train, that the signals are properly at danger; this is a great mistake.* With the "Cross Bar'' system, you have a much better purchase in pulling the signal round to show "all-right" than in pushing it back to "danger." In the former case, you are assisted by the weight of the body, but in pushing the lever you have not this advantage, and if great care be not taken, in some weathers, the signal may be standing at "all-right," or nearly so, when it should be at "danger," - the way in which the lever has been moved being just enough to tighten up the slack wire without moving the signal round. In this case the driver will be unable to pull up before reaching the home signal, and so an accident ensues. The experienced signalman in working these high boxes is generally able to tell by the travel of the wire, the strain he feels upon the lever, and the force he uses in putting it over to "danger," whether the signal has properly acted or not, as he is able to allow for the action of the weather upon the signals and points. The failure of signals to act properly in this way causes many accidents, and also, much contradictory swearing between the enginedriver and the signalman. It is easy for the signalman to prove that the lever moving the signal was in its proper place, consequently, *The early fixed signals were soon superceded by “disc and crossbar” signals which were introduced in 1841. They were one of the first signals in the country to have positive indications for both “all clear” and “stop”. These signals were on posts between 40 and 60 feet (12.3m – 18.5m) tall and consisted of a 3ft or 4ft diameter disk mounted over an 8ft x 1ft 3in horizontal bar set a right angles to the disk. Both disk and crossbar where made of metal and were perforated to reduce wind resistance. “All clear” was signalled by turning the disc to face the train, and “stop” indicated by turning the post a quarter turn so the bar faced oncoming traffic. While semaphore signals gradually replaced disk and crossbar signals from 1865 onwards, a few disc and crossbar signals survived until the 1900s. - Ed I do not by any means wish it to be understood that I condemn those kinds of signals; but I think that more care should be used with them than with others; therefore, the signalman who has to work them should be particularly well trained. Great Western Star Summer 2021
the engine-driver is blamed for running past it when it is supposed to be dead against him, whereas the very reverse may be the case. Inquiries into these matters should be taken in hand very carefully, by men who thoroughly understand the practical parts connected therewith; and in the end they will not fail to trace the blame to its proper source; namely, to the unskillfulness of the signalman in not being able to tell, after moving his signal, whether it has acted properly or not. I will name a case that occurred at the junction where I am doing duty. I was in the act of pulling over a pair of junction points, when they became disconnected from the rod attached to the lever in my box, through the key coming out of the pin, and thus allowing it to gradually work out of the crank. Now this pair of points generally worked very easy, so that there was but the slightest difference in the strain upon the lever ; still I detected a difference, and it was very fortunate I did, for I was putting the points right for a fast express to pass, which would otherwise have been thrown off the rails, as the fault did not in any way prevent my putting the signals to " all-right" for this purpose; and had I not discovered that something was wrong (if the box is worked upon the inter-locking system) the result might have been something fearful. The experienced signalman is able to detect as slight a difference as two pounds in the force used to pull levers over, and men who can do this are, in my opinion, invaluable to Railway Companies.
Accidents Caused by Engine-Drivers Disregarding Signals at Junctions, Points, or Sidings.
Engine-drivers sometimes disregard signals at junctions, and sidings, if the latter are protected by signals alone, as there is nothing to prevent them running from the siding or branch on to the main line, perhaps into a passing train; and before railway travelling can be made safe, these dangerous sidings and junctions must be altered. They should be protected both by signals and "Protection" or "Safety Points," which should lead off into a dead encl, blocked up with ballast, and interlocked with the main line signals. So that all the time the latter are standing at "all-right," for a train to pass along the main line, the "safety points " would stand for the dead end and should a train start from a siding against the signal, it would, to the driver's great surprise, run into 33
the ballast "stop," thereby avoiding the danger of a collision. It would be much better to cause a shock to the branch train than hurl two trains to destruction. In cases where junctions are so constructed that there is no room for these "safety points" to be put in, a signal-box should be placed at some convenient distance from the junction; say a quarter of a mile. The branch train should be kept at it, under the block system of telegraph, until the signalman at the junction could admit it on to the main line. In the case of sidings, I see nothing to interfere with the "safety points" being used. They would make all junctions, sidings, and level crossings quite safe, and would be the means of making engine-drivers very careful to keep a good look out; for they would know that if they overran the points, they would run their trains into a ''dead end." Thus would, at once and for ever, be done away with, one of the most fearful classes of railway accident s. Another important recommendation I have to make is, that some small instruments, known as "indicators," should be employed between sidings where shunting is clone, or where goods trains are put by for fast express trains to pass, and the interior of high boxes that are far from them. A siding may be a hundred or a hundred and fifty yards from the signalbox. On a dark, and perhaps foggy night, the usual way of performing shunting at the present time is, for the signalman It would not necessarily follow that under the system here proposed a driver would run his train into the dead end if he overran the points (against the signal). I would advise that a crank be attached to the lower part of the signal post, with two arms, just long enough to reach the nearest rail, having claws at the ends with a fog signal in each claw. This crank should work with the signa l, and when the latter was standing at danger, the fog signal (or detonator) would be resting on the rail. As soon as the signal was put to “all-right," the simultaneous action of the crank would withdraw them clear from the line. Thus the driver would always discover what he was about in time to have a chance of pulling up before reaching the dead end. These throw off lines should be made as long as circumstances would permit to depend upon the man in charge to show him a white light by hand lamp, or give a signal on a gong worked by electricity, when the main line is all clear for another train to pass. Now the 34
JC Bourne’s well known lithograph of the west end of Box tunnel
former is a very dangerous system, for where shunting is taking place, the guards and the men in charge have each lights in their hands; there are also lights on the engine, and on the train which is being shunted. All these are moving about in different directions at the same time, and the signalman may easily take one of them as a signal that the line is clear before it is so. I have known many accidents to occur through misunderstandings under these circumstances. Moreover, the gong is not always to be relied upon, for the signalman may forget what number of beats has been given. To prevent such mistakes, a lever should be placed in a convenient spot as near to the points in the sidings as possible, and this should be attached to a small arm, or indicator, placed in the signal-box. It should be kept locked over by means of a padlock, so as to show· the "allright" signal (in the box) when no shunting is being done, the key being in charge of the signalman; when any shunting is required to be performed, he should hand it to the man in charge, who ought to be held responsible for locking the lever over to "danger" as soon as the shunting commences, and keep it so until everything is put back into the siding, and the main line all clear; then he should lock the indicator over to "all-right," which would show the signalman for certain that all was right. The indicator in the box should interlock with the main line signal lever, so that it would be quite impossible for the signalman to let a train pass in that direction during the time the former was at "danger." This simple suggestion could be carried out at a very trifling outlay, and would save thousands of pounds. (To be continued) Great Western Star Summer 2021
Talking to the Old Hands. Part the 2nd
Adrian Vaughan* Railway Historian and Brunel Biographer Steam haulage on the Western Region came to an end with 6998 Burton Agnes Hall taking the 10.50 a.m Bournemouth – York from Oxford to Banbury departing from Oxford at 2.11 p.m on 2nd January 1966. Mr. JWP Rowledge’s excellent book ‘GWR Locomotive Allocations:1922-1967’, 6998 was withdrawn from service in December 1965. Certainly it had no nameplates in its last weeks but for this very special run, the Oxford Engineering Society, mostly made up of Oxford locomen, made the engine a pair and the engine was well cleaned by. The sheet metal backing for the thick plywood letters was made by cutting up and welding together the cab sliding side sheets from some scrapped 61xx tank engines. Fig.1 GWR Modified Hall Class 6998 Burton Agnes Hall waits to depart with the last steam hauled passenger train on the 2nd January 1966
My very good friend Don Kingdom made paper patterns of the letters of a GWR nameplate fixed to the wall inside Kidlington village hall. From those and other sources, plywood of the correct thickness was cut out, sliding side sheets from 61xx tank engine on Oxford shed sidings were cut up to make the steel backing for the letters and two very convincing replicas were made and properly painted. (Figs 1 & 2). Challow. Box closed on 30th April 1965 - redundant under the Reading Multiple Aspect Signalling scheme. I was relocated to Uffington, 2 ½ miles west. Uffington, was the interface signal box between the MAS and the Mechanical boxes westwards. Uffington was closed when the Swindon MAS scheme took over on 3rd March 1968. I took a vacancy at Kennington Junction, Oxford. (Figs 3 & 4)
Fig.3 Elwyn, Jim and the author in Uffington Box
Fig.2 The reconstructed nameplate
*Adrian Vaughan was born in Reading in January 1941 and grew up closely in touch with the GWR and its nationalised successor. He was a volunteer porter at Challow station from 1953 to 1956, during which time he learned how to drive a steam engine and work a signal box. In 1960, after 4½ years in the army, he joined the staff of Challow and became a signalman at Uffington a few months later. He was a signalman for fourteen years and an amateur footplateman for six. He produced his first book on his beloved railway in 1971 and has produced over thirty books to date.
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Fig.5 Kennington Junction Signal Box 1968
Fig.4 Uffington Box Diagram December 1966
The signal box stood on the Upside of the line and the long narrow gardens of the houses lining the minor road to Abingdon came down to the railway line. One of the gardens belonged to a retired Oxford engine driver, Jim Honey. It was his habit, on nice summer evenings, to walk to the bottom of his garden, come through the fence and visit the signal box. He was a very dignified man, silver hair well brushed, good clothes, aged about 70. He came several time to see me. Jim said, ‘My daughter’s a lawyer, my son’s a physicist at Harwell. The best my parents could do for me was to get me into the shed at Oxford as an engine cleaner. There was a career there. I started as a cleaner in Oxford shed in March 1911, earning ten shillings a week.’ When his turn came for promotion to fireman, in 1913, the job was at Llantrisant on the Cardiff – Swansea main line, a hub of branch lines. Jim lodged with a driver, Frank, whose engine was a 1076 Class saddle tank No.734 built in 1873 Known to the enginemen as ‘Buffaloes’. Frank’s engine had been modernised with a saddle tank covering the full length of boiler and smoke box and the addition of a half cab – open to the elements when running bunker first. Frank loved this engine very much and kept it in perfect order. While Jim was lodging with him, 734 was taken from Frank. He was heart broken and very cross. He resigned from the GWR and moved his family to Bournemouth. There he bought a horse and cart milk delivery round. Being totally ignorant of the care of 36
Fig.6 Kennington Junction Signal Box interior 1968
Fig.7 The railwaymen at Llantrisant, including Jim Honey with his engine, Buffaloe No 734
flesh and blood horses, he was constantly in trouble with the RSPCA, the courts and fines. He became bankrupt, departed from his wife and children and emigrated to South America. Great Western Star Summer 2021
Fig.8 Jim Honey, Sapper
Jim found new lodgings in the town and applied to join the regiment of railwaymen the GWR was raising, for the Royal Engineers Railway Operating Division. He failed to be recruited and returned to Oxford in 1914. In 1915 Colonel Alfred Hammersley M.P for Woodstock, was in Oxford raising volunteers for the Royal Garrison Artillery (RGA) and Jim joined that. The RGA used massive, large calibre, howitzers, guns on wheels like those on a large traction engine, and indeed, they could only be hauled by large traction engines. Jim’s Battery was posted to the Somme district in March 1916 (Fig.8). On 26th July 1916 Jim was one of the team serving his huge gun, firing with 999 other guns of varying calibres, in the preliminary barrage that was supposed to destroy the German front line and make the British attack, on 1st June, a ‘walkover’. While he was engaged in that he was called to the Battery Sergeant Major’s dug-out, told to pack his kit and make his own way to Le Havre to join a Royal Engineers Railway Operating company. He was given a horse for transport but to start with his journey was over old battle fields and he got lost in the mud. Great Western Star Summer 2021
He came across a Railway Transport Officer, (RTO) showed him his letter directing him to Le Harve. The RTO stopped a car that was going to a railway station. Jim got in and was taken to the station. There was a canteen there run by Jessie Boots, the ‘Boots the Chemist’ heiress. Tea and a Wad were free. An empty ammunition train that was going to Harfluer stopped. Jim got into that and walked the last few miles from Harfluer to Le Havre and was directed to the railway marshalling yards. He was taken to his billet, dropped his pack and was taken out to a shunting engine and told to follow shunters’ instructions. He formed-up trains of military supplies and took them as far as the Nord main line. He would soon be going out on the main line towards the front lines with heavy trains so he was given the Nord railwaymens’ Rule Book. Supposedly it was written in English, but Jim never said. After a couple of weeks he went before a Nord Inspector and was passed as competent in Nord Rules. Either the Inspector could speak English or they had a translator. Jim never said. He was now a Nord driver qualified to work hauling heavy trains with locomotives he had never seen before over routes he did not know but to make all clear and perfectly safe he was given the Nord book of charts of gradient and tunnels. Additionally there was a permanent restriction of 25 mph. Because he was not trained in engine driving by the Royal Engineers his pay, 2/6d a day, was four pence a day less than ‘proper’ ROD men. Jim said, ‘Don’t think we didn’t get shot at because we were driving trains!. Their planes bombed us and the track and where the Nord tracks were seven miles or less from the German lines, their artillery could shell us. Then we’d stop and crawl under the tender and hope. It normal to be 76 hours, out and back for one trip. We slept on the footplate and ate when we could. Army rules prohibited sleeping on the footplate. If you were found asleep that was a serious charge against you. But you have to sleep at sometime’. He remembered one occasion when they were stuck behind trains with the track ahead shelled and under repair. He and his fireman dozed and slept. Some loud noise woke them and they saw the fire had gone out. The firebox was still hot. His fireman was a Welsh miner – inevitably called ‘Taff’. “He was much older than me, and a really good chap” said Jim, “he seemed always able to find something to eat when we were out on the line for days. Taff found some 37
wood and paraffin and just as we had a good blaze going in the box we got orders to move. So we moved on, walking speed was normal, and no-one knew we’d let the fire out.” Another time that happened and Taff came back with someone’s front door to light the fire with. Behind him was the French Chef de Train. He was shouting and waving arms and carrying on. Taff calmly leans this door against the tender and says ‘“Hand me down the rifle’’. I did. Taff turns around, points the gun at the Frenchman and yells something at him in Welsh. The poor old Chef shuts up and climbs into his van next to the tender. Those blokes were supposed to be in charge of train and that included us on the footplate!’ “When there was some big push going on we’d be creeping along for days with a load of ammo behind. There were times when we were stuck because the track had been shelled. We’d been stuck at some place. Night came on, we dozed off. Next morning, as the sun came up a mist began to come out of the ground. Our eyes started watering and we started coughing and gasping. We’d got stuck on an old battlefield where poison gas had settled. We were scared. But then an H.E came over and landed close to us but it didn’t explode. That made us feel better would you believe? Anyhow after a while the sun burned off the mist of gas and we were OK. After working out of Le Havre for a while, he was posted to the town of Albert. Albert was 5 miles from the front line, well within range of German artillery and the Battle of the Somme was still in full fury till November. When Jim went there it was in the process of demolition by German shelling. From there Jim was posted to Audricq. This was the largest distribution depot for stores and ammunition for the B.E.F. It covered hundreds of acres a few miles south of Calais port and south-west from the port of Dunkirk. It had a large locomotive depot for daily servicing and workshops for repairing locomotives of British, United States and Canadian origins. As the years of war went by, ever greater demands were made on the railways. An Army Division consisted of 12,000 men needing a thousand tons of supplies a day. The British engines that had gone to France in 1914-15 were relatively small engines, the weight they had to haul increased and so more journeys had to be made to keep up with the demands of the front line. And the main lines were always too full. Jim remarked that GWR ‘Dean 38
Fig.9 Jim & Baldwin. (No WW1 view of a GCR 2-8-0 only a 1950s)
Goods’ were too small in the boiler and the Churchward 2-6-0, were ‘too big in the wheel’ to be any good as the weight of trains increased. Thousand ton trains reduced the number of trains on the track and from 1917 those were hauled by American and Canadian locos – and by a new design from the Great Central Railway: a 2-8-0 of engine of great power and sturdy simplicity. Five hundred and twenty one of these were delivered to the ROD in France starting in 1917. They were fitted with the Westinghouse brake for working French rolling stock. From Audricq Jim drove 1,000 ton trains to Albert, just five miles behind the front line of the Somme battle which, even in November was still raging. The route was the Nord route to Paris passing Boulogne and onwards. That involved the Dannes-Camier bank - which Jim talked of with some awe - to Amiens and Albert. The last section being over the military railway built by the Royal Engineers. He said entering the Albert, with the Somme battle still being fought ‘things got very hot in Albert’. Jim said that the ROD was always short of drivers and many men who had been sacked for ‘making themselves prominent’ during the 1911 national railway strike and who had gone to Argentina as drivers or firemen, came back to Britain and joined the Royal Engineers ROD. There were GWR men, Midland men and others. On the sleeve of their uniforms, at shoulder height, they wore an emblem of the Southern Cross constellation. When I was researching through GWR Staff Records in the 1980 and 90s, I noticed that on some men’s pages a large, capital D written on the top right hand corner of the page. Remembering what Jim had said, I knew this meant DISLOYAL. In 1918 the Germans had aeroplanes capable of reaching the Channel Coast and Great Western Star Summer 2021
Fig.10 (above) Kenneth Leech MR fireman 1913 Fig.11 (above right) Kenneth Leech as an RE officer Fig.12 (right) Kenneth Leech at 100
Audrique’s ammunition dumps – as well as military hospitals – was bombed. Jim Honey and Kenneth Leech, who I knew as the retired Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Westinghouse Brake and Signal Company, were stationed at Audricq at the time. Millions of tons of ordnance exploded, the explosions went on all through the night and all through the following day. Men asleep in their tents scrambled out and ran about in panic, some were naked. Hundreds died. Jim sheltered under his engine. Audricq town had been evacuated and many soldiers went from the Audricq camp, after the bombing, into the town, looted the pubs and got drunk. The Military police rounded them up and marched them back to the devastated camp. ‘A shame faced crowd’, said Jim. Kenneth Leech joined the workshops of the London Tilbury & Southend Railway (LT&SR) in Great Western Star Summer 2021
November 1910. He was taken on as an articled Pupil of Mr. Robert Whitelegg ‘Locomotive, Carriage, Wagon and Marine Superintendent’ of the LT&SR. When war broke out on 4th August 1914, Kenneth was a finished Pupil, 39
Fig.13 (left) Jim Honey Royal Train Driver, 1957 Fig.14 (above) Jim Honey retires, 1958
an engineer and also a fully qualified fireman. He at once volunteered for the Royal Engineers and of course went into the ROD as a private, a Sapper. Kenneth told me that “the bombing began at 1 a.m. and lasted ‘a long time’. 27,000 tons of ammunition, including 1,000 tons of trench mortar bombs, exploded in just one part of the camp. The ground shook, the noise was deafening. My head ached for days afterwards from the huge noise which I’m sure would have been heard in Kent. I lay down in a hollow as the explosions continued. I was scared but I retained enough composure to take out my watch and count my heart rate. It was thrashing away at a 100 a minute” Kenneth said that an ROD driver took his engine into a siding full of wagons loaded with ammunition yet to explode, and drew the whole train out and away to safety. He was wearing pyjamas at the time. Kenneth came back from the war promoted to Lieutenant. He joined the Westinghouse Brake and Signal Company and eventually became its Chief Mechanical Engineer. When the Armistice was signed, on 11th November 1918, Jim Honey began driving 40
Leave trains to and from Boulogne and Cologne. He was very impressed with what he saw of the undamaged German railways. Germans were close to starvation but their country was physically untouched by the war. Jim mentioned the ‘Hump’ shunting yard they had built at Namur, ‘that was a real eye opener for me. We never had anything like that in France’. He did a lot of footplate travel immediately after the war, not only driving British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) leave trains but standing guard over German crews working trains. He said of the German built rest camp for footplate crews at Namur, ‘They had running water in the latrine – beautiful’. The Rhine Valley was ‘beautiful’, so was Cologne. Whenever Jim was laid over in a German town he said,”So I took a look around the town.” It was fascinating, to me, to hear him say that sentence. I’d hear it from Don Kingdom when I was fooplating with him and we’d reached the outer end of our journey, but Jim was using it in 1918. Whether in Cologne or Reading it seemed obligatory to ‘have a look around the town’. Jim returned to Oxford after the war, after all his hair raising driving experience, taking up his pre-war rank of ‘fireman’. He became a very well respected driver and retired, after 47 years service on 30th August 1958 (To be continued.)
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Is there a Standard Gauge Today? John Page, Records, Controller, Network Rail Archive The battle to establish a standard gauge between the rails across Britain ended 129 years ago. So why do we still have variations in track today? The end of the line for Brunel’s broad gauge came on the line from Paddington to Penzance, over the weekend of 20 to 23 May, 1892. Railway workers ripped up the last stretch of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s broad gauge track. They converted 213 track miles to the standard gauge for the South Wales Railway, closing one of the railway’s most divisive and controversial chapters. Pioneering engineers Brunel and George Stephenson had been at war over their attempts to each establish a standard distance between the rails on Britain’s railway. A standard gauge would create a national network of railway lines and enable trains to run uninterrupted by changes in the infrastructure for the first time. Brunel believed his 7ft ¼ in broad gauge (Fig.2) rail would mean faster and smoother journeys, proven by its success on the his Great Western Railway linking Paddingon with South West England. However, George Stephenson favoured 4ft 8½ in between the rails, based on the needs of the horses and carts for which the early railways had been built (Fig.3). I would describe Brunel as a radical: The Stephenson gauge came from George’s experience of the colliery railways of the early 1800s, and maintained the horse-and-cart gauge. Brunel was the one to suggest a new gauge for a new technology – to leave the horse and cart behind and have a bespoke gauge for bespoke locomotives. He believed that his gauge would lead to faster and smoother journeys. Passenger experience was good on the broad gauge. The problems came when the broad gauge met the standard gauge, as passengers would need to swap trains to continue their journeys. The conflict was personal as well as professional; Brunel found himself against his close friend Robert Stephenson, who took his father George's side. Despite Brunel's firm belief that a wider track was the superior design, Stephenson’s gauge was built on most of the railway in the coming decades and the broad gauge ultimately lost. Railway companies laid no more broad gauge track after about 1860, according to ‘The Oxford Companion to British Railway History’, and existing track was converted to standard gauge, “achieving the recommendation of the Gauge Commissioners without compensation”. I do not think there is any coincidence to the fact that once Brunel died (1859), so did the future of the broad gauge. It is a testament to the power and influence of Brunel and his unerring vision,
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Fig.1 Isambard Kingdom Brunel Fig.2 Drawing of Brunel’s broad gauge (from Network Rail’s archive)
Fig.3 An archive drawing of the standard gauge (Network Rail)
that broad gauge existed, and continued expanding until his death. When you consider that the broad gauge extended to only 544 track miles and was restricted by the Railway Regulation (Gauge) Act 1846, it was never going to surpass or trump the Stephenson gauge.” Brian Whitney, an engineering expert specialising in track at Network Rail, said: “Was it
Fig.4 An archive drawing of the mixed gauge – an adaptation of the remaining broad gauge railway before it was fully converted to the country-wide standard
the right thing? I don’t think I know. It was that the majority rules, almost, in the mid-1800s.” Fig.4 shows an archive drawing of the mixed gauge – an adaptation of the remaining broad gauge railway before it was fully converted to the countrywide standard But the end of the end of the broad gauge did not mean an entirely standard railway. In fact, we continue to deal with our predecessors’ variations in track design today. However, there was more standardisation in the decades following the formation of British Railways in 1948, which brought the railway under one operator. Brian said: “From about 1970 onwards, we’ve been fairly standard, using just three [types] of rail. You need to be a bit careful – there’s not just one type of rail everywhere.” Differences in rail can make it more challenging and time consuming for us to replace a section of rail when it breaks or becomes too worn for trains to run safely. In some parts of the railway, switches and crossings have been built with bespoke rail or specifically designed cast crossings. This is rail specifically designed and manufactured for that precise location. We must make a new one; it’s not possible to replace it with an off-the-shelf piece. Elsewhere, we have bullhead rail, which must be replaced with bullhead rail; our more common flat bottom rail is incompatible with it. Furthermore, when we install a new rail beside a worn rail, we get a difference in profile that we need to blend in during the welding process. We tend to get a bigger difference on curves, where rails wear more significantly, than on straight pieces of track. Today we have three types of rail across Britain (a) Bullhead rail - This dates from Victorian times and was named after the shape of the end of the rail (thick at the top and bottom, and thin in the middle). It’s the least common of our rail and is typically found on tertiary lines or quieter secondary railway routes than on busier main lines, which we need to
Fig.5 Bullhead rail (left) and flat bottom rail (right)
Fig.6 (above) Bullhead rail Fig.7 (below) Flat bottom rail
renew more frequently. It’s also still found on the London Underground. Brian said: “The lower speed, lower tonnage, less critical bits of railway will get maintained for much longer without renewals. It’s not cost effective to renew something that’s carrying very little traffic at a lower speed.” Bullhead rail must be replaced with bullhead rail because it’s designed to attach to a special base plate known as a chair that sits on top of the sleeper. (b) Flat bottom rail (in two sizes) - The modern-
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Fig.8 520 metres of new track at Llangennech
style flat bottom rail is fastened directly to the sleeper (no ‘chair' required). It was developed as a
replacement for bullhead rail and dates from the 1950s. It is used on most of our railway today. Just as it sounds, it has a very wide, flat bottom. This larger rail is an improvement on older rail designs; it means stronger track that lasts longer. It comes in two sizes – 56kg and 60kg, which we’ve used since 2000. Brian added: “Generally the trend has been to increase the size to increase the stiffness of the rail and the ability to support higher loads. What would have been perfectly adequate 100 years ago for fewer trains at 60 miles an hour is not serviceable or economic for a larger number of trains at 125 miles per hour.” “What really makes it distinct from bullhead rail is shape and that we don’t generally need to attach it to a specific base plate on the sleeper. Instead, we can fasten it directly onto the sleeper.”
Work Continues on South Wales Metro Transport for Wales (TfW) is continuing to push ahead with transformational plans for the South Wales Metro with major work to be undertaken in the Cynon Valley in late summer. The railway line between Aberdare and Pontypridd is to be closed between Saturday 28 August and Sunday 12 September to allow heavy engineering work to take place, as part of preparations for the introduction of brand new electric tram-trains. Replacement bus services will be in operation between Aberdare and Pontypridd. The three-quarters of a billion pound transformation of the Core Valley Lines for the Metro has been part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through Welsh Government, and will enable faster, more frequent services between Cardiff and the heads of the valleys, including Aberdare. The 16-day closure will allow engineers to carry out complex work including repositioning signals, installing and testing new equipment, devegetation, realigning the track, and installing the foundations for overhead line equipment. The scale of the preparation to be achieved in this 16-day window when trains aren’t running means work will be required 24 hours a day. A large collection of people, plant and machinery has meant the railway closure is unavoidable. When installed, the overhead lines will power the new tram-trains, which will reduce journey times between Aberdare and Cardiff city centre and allow TfW to increase the frequency of services to four every hour. Karl Gilmore, TfW’s Rail Infrastructure Director, said: “We have a significant amount of work to carry out to create the South Wales Metro. This includes the biggest upgrade to the ageing Core Valley Lines infrastructure to this scale since it was first built,
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so that we can deliver the faster, more frequent and greener services the people of the South Wales valleys deserve. “While work is taking place, we’ll do everything we can to work responsibly by ensuring our sites are well managed and our people are considerate to our neighbours.” The investment in the Metro will significantly improve connectivity providing access to jobs, leisure and other opportunities for the people of Wales, through unifying rail, bus and active travel routes. More information about Metro is available on the Transport for Wales website, including a blog article answering some frequently asked questions about the Metro transformation work. Travel updates can be found on the TfW Rail website. Don’t forget, if you wish to go on receiving your own copy of Great Western Star, then you must sign up for a subscription. You can get a year’s subscription if you Go to www.greatwesternstar.com
Missing Main Lines Reconnecting communities to the national rail network by restoring closed branch railway lines is popular, with many applications to the Department for Transport’s Restore Your Railway fund. Government announced the first go-ahead on 19 March 2021 which should lead to regular services from Exeter to Okehampton later this year1. But are there lines of regional or even national – as well as local – significance that also should be brought back into use? Main lines instead of branch lines? In “Disconnected: Broken Links in Britain’s Rail Policy”2 authors Chris Austin and Richard Faulkner devote a chapter to this question when they looked at missing main lines
Lost Main Lines
Alongside various local lines that have been lost, their book covered five main lines that have been closed in the last 60 years. Maybe other strategic routes such as the East Lincolnshire Line which connected Grimsby, Louth and Boston with services to London should have qualified as a main line too. Greengauge21 has certainly advocated its reinstatement elsewhere3. The longest of the selected five main lines is the Great Central – although its suburban route from Aylesbury into its London terminus at Marylebone remains in use today. While serving a string of cities through the East Midlands and onwards to Yorkshire, the Great Central largely duplicated a rival railway company’s service offering. The authors conclude that the biggest loss from closing the Great Central main line from the north side of the Chilterns is capacity. Interestingly, this is the same corridor served by the eastern arm of HS2, although by missing the cities the Great Central served, this part of HS2 has minimal released capacity benefit4. The most northerly main line loss is the Caledonian Railway from Perth to Aberdeen along Strathmore, serving intermediate towns such as Forfar. This route was superseded as long ago as the 19th century when completion of the Forth and Tay bridges created a more useful route to Aberdeen via Dundee. Authors Austin and Faulkner conclude that when the Caledonian line closed, the greatest loss was rail connectivity to the small intermediate towns it served along Strathmore. They conclude simply: ‘it would be hard to argue for the restoration of the line today’. Three missing main lines that could be reopened: The first of these is the line from Stratford upon Avon to Cheltenham via Honeybourne. The report authors say that the loss of this connection as a useful diversionary route is a critical factor in the case for its re-instatement. We agree and alongside linkages between Oxford and Stratford upon Avon
Disconnected: Broken Links in Britain’s Rail Policyby Chris Austin and Richard Faulkner. Greengauge 21 have looked at the lines and looked at how they might - or might not fit into a future rail plan
(of great value to tourism flows), there is the ability to re-create a linkage from Cheltenham to Stratford and on into Birmingham’s Moor Street – which is set to become a new rail hub, alongside Curzon Street HS2 station. Much of the line exists today as a heritage line, and applications have been made to the DfT ‘Restore Your Railway’ fund to re-open the line in stages. Besides new passenger services, it could provide a useful freight route including for intermodal traffic between national distribution centres in the Midlands (for example, at Daventry and East Midlands Airport) and South Wales (and the South West in due course), overcoming network limitations in the Birmingham and Bromsgrove areas. As is often the case with such schemes, the biggest problems arise in urban areas. The route southwards from Stratford-upon-Avon station remains unhindered by property development but would need major highway bridging work. The route northwards across Cheltenham is now a valued walk/cycle-way and is regarded by report authors Austin and Faulkner as in effect lost for re-use as a railway. A short new connection across open country north of Cheltenham is more likely be an acceptable approach. The second is the Oxford-Cambridge line, closed in 1970. It has already been partly restored and a company, East West Rail (EWR) established, with full Government support and funding. It serves places of considerable prosperity and growth potential, including the two university cities at either end of the route and Milton Keynes. It has from time to time been suggested that this line, which crosses the route of HS2 near
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Claydon in rural Buckinghamshire should be the site of a new interchange station between EWR and HS2. While superficially attractive, this makes little sense. Besides the problem of introducing a station call on a 360km/hr section of HS2, it would create a point of maximum accessibility and place huge development pressure in a part of deep rural England. This very prospect was in fact examined by the consultants who carried out the early studies into north-south high-speed rail in 2000-15. Development at this location at the time was seen to be completely incompatible with local and regional spatial development plans. There are other key intersections between the east-west Oxford-Cambridge railway and northsouth main lines that should be exploited. One of these is at Bletchley/Milton Keynes on the West Coast Main Line (WCML). Services into Milton Keyes from EWR need to operate over the WCML from Bletchley. HS2 will remove fast non-stopping services from the WCML and a major timetabling restructuring will take place. It is to be hoped that this will facilitate the creation of direct Oxford-Milton Keynes rail services in due course. The final main line closure considered by authors Austin and Faulkner is the route from Exeter to Plymouth via Okehampton and Tavistock. Today the only line between Exeter and Plymouth (and, indeed, Cornwall) is Brunel’s line – distinctly not his finest: “a difficult section of railway, with steep gradients between Newton Abbot and Plymouth over the notorious South Devon banks and there is a vulnerable coastal stretch of line”. The authors continue: “the line has been closed on 19 occasions, varying from part of a day to eight weeks. The average closure periods for interruptions is six days”. The link between Okehampton and Bere Alston closed in 1968. The line from Exeter to Okehampton was not listed by Beeching for closure and has remained open, although with minimal use (and maintenance) in recent years. This route has just been announced for ‘re-opening’, and over £40m is being spent to bring track and signalling up to scratch. But the big prize is re-creating a through route again, filling in the 15 mile gap between Tavistock The vulnerable coastal route between Teignmouth and Dawlish (Greengauge 21)
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The abandoned trackbed at Brentor (Greengauge21)
and Meldon. On this prospect, Austin and Faulkner conclude as follows: “If the line […] were restored, it would provide an additional route between Exeter and Plymouth, improve rail access for West Devon and provide a closer railhead for North Cornwall. However, decisions are never straightforward… Re-signalling the whole route from Crediton to St. Budeaux would be required… The first part of the route [the existing Exeter-Barnstaple line]… is in the flood plain” “Clearly the first priority is to protect the existing [coastal] route… However, the added value of the Okehampton route is clear and had it not closed, it would today be both a valuable line of regional significance serving areas of Devon and Cornwall that are remote from a railhead. With rising sea levels, and the need for higher levels of maintenance of the coastal route, it would also have clear added value as a diversionary route”. “Apart from that, Plymouth with its population of a quarter of a million is the only city of that size with just a single rail line with the rest of the country. In 1968 that was not seen as an issue. In 2015, it is, and a second line is needed, not just because of the vulnerability of the single route at Dawlish, but because from time to time it will be closed as a result of failure or incident, and quite frequently for maintenance. Something better than the present arrangement is needed for the 21st century.”
Of the five main lines examined for re-opening, the biggest (the Great Central Railway) could not be re-created today through the cities of Leicester, Nottingham and Sheffield without very costly and disruptive works. But its modern equivalent – HS2 – is a viable successor, although its route between the East Midlands and Yorkshire needs to be reviewed. Either way, this will provide the eastern side of the country with a new high-speed route into London: something that the Great Central always lacked. The loss of the Caledonian main line from Perth to Aberdeen is no doubt regretted by many, but its re-instatement would bring only local benefits. The three remaining lines have full re-opening plans. These are not exercises in nostalgia. Their
common feature is that they each perform wider strategic roles, as well as bringing local area benefits. East-West Rail is leading the pack, having gained Government support after strong campaigning. Its full cost has been estimated at £5bn (2019 prices). The campaign to re-create the ‘northern’ route between Exeter and Plymouth is compelling6. Even since 2015, when Austin and Faulkner spoke about addressing the challenges on the existing coastal line, awareness of the significance of sea level rises on the coastal route has grown. Northern route reinstatement costs were estimated in 2014 at £875m for a railway designed to intercity standards and with measures to protect the initial part of the route west from Exeter (shared with the Barnstaple line) from flood risk. Just like East-West Rail, the second main line between Exeter and Plymouth offers substantial connectivity gains across a wide geography. But it also provides a unique network resilience bonus. Unlike the Oxford-Cambridge arc, Devon and Cornwall are not areas of high prosperity. The adoption of this west country scheme by Government, and the allocation of proper funding to it, is a real test of Government’s commitment to levelling up parts of the country doing least well economically. Half of England’s most deprived areas lost their railway stations in the Beeching cuts, a new report has found. Research by Campaign for Better Transport found that 88 of 175 stations in the poorest areas of the country have closed since 1960, with 23 areas losing two or more7. Many of these areas are in the North of England, but the local authority with the overall lowest level of productivity/head (income and profits) is in the West Country: Cornwall. Its rail connectivity depends on a single, vulnerable, line along the south Devon coast being kept open. As we have seen, East West Rail and StratfordCheltenham main line re-instatements both have
some relevance to a wider aim of getting the most from HS2 investment. Exeter-Okehampton-Tavistock-Plymouth provides long term assurance in dealing with perhaps the most pressing case of a global warming threat facing the national rail network.
One more missing link
Whereas it could be said that HS2’s Eastern Arm is a modern version of the northern part of the (lost) Great Central Main Line, in practice an even more significant main line loss could be the North Midland Line which linked South and West Yorkshire (Sheffield-Rotherham-NormantonLeeds). This line was overlooked in the Austin-Faulkner book, and is now substantially built over, making its re-instatement all but impossible. The ambition for a better and faster link between Sheffield and Leeds – and better connections to the key places between them (notably Barnsley and Wakefield) – remains. The corridor is relevant to both Northern Powerhouse Rail and HS2, but a firm plan that can be prioritised is not yet apparent. Yet here there is a strong case for new, electrified, rail capacity, able to overcome slow journey times and network congestion. Sometimes rather than re-instatement, new build can be a better approach.
1: Greengauge 21 provided technical support to the relevant train operating company, GWR, examining the wider social benefit from a restored railway for the Okehampton catchment area 2: Published by OPC, 2015. ISBN 978 0 86093 664 0 3:http://www.greengauge21.net/challenging-regioninequalities-the-transport-element/ 4: http://www.greengauge21.net/rail-investment-for-thenorth-midlands-how-to-make-it-happen/ 5: WS Atkins et al report to Strategic Rail Authority, 2001 6: https://northernrouteworkinggroup.wordpress.com/ 7: Daily Telegraph, 1st April 2021
Solent to Midlands Multimodal Freight Strategy ABP Southampton has welcomed the publication of the first phase of a strategy by Network Rail and Highways England that explores how to make even better use of the rail and road infrastructure between the Solent and the Midlands. The Solent to Midlands Multimodal Freight Strategy recognises the role played by the Port of Southampton as a gateway to the Midlands, which is home to many economic hubs and distribution centres, while principally exploring how greater use of rail could free up vital road corridors like the A34 and help achieve Net Zero goals. “This study comes at a very good time, as the country focuses on economic recovery and a more sustainable way of working,” said Alastair Welch, Director of ABP Southampton.
“It’s positive to see this collaboration between Network Rail and Highways England recognising the role we can play in keeping Britain trading and moving,” he added. “As a vital node in many global supply chains, the Port of Southampton supports jobs around the country.”
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Pandrol Advanced Welding,
Tyne and Wear Metro, Newcastle, United Kingdom
With work already underway, Pandrol approached GPX and suggested that its new Advanced welding process would provide a particularly effective solution to help meet the time challenges of the Nexus project. Having looked at the process in detail and having carried out a risk assessment that showed a reduced level of risk, GPX and Nexus agreed that Pandrol Advanced should be used for the remainder of the project. Pandrol Advanced brings together innovations at every step of the welding process to save time and improve safety, ergonomics and weld quality. A small team of welders working on the Nexus project were trained over two days by Pandrol and then
supervised on site while they cast their first welds using the new process. Aluminothermic welding traditionally involves luting – sealing moulds to rail ends with paste or sand to avoid metal leaks. With Pandrol Advanced, the luting process is replaced by AutoSeal, the world’s first self-sealing mould. AutoSeal comes with a built-in insulation joint that expands during pre-heating to create a tight seal when fitted onto the rail. This brings five key benefits: • It saves time – at least five minutes per weld, as sealing the mould is automatic and there is no need for the luting procedure. • It makes sealing more reliable – especially in cold weather and tight spaces. • It reduces the defect rate – by facilitating moisture evacuation during the preheat. • It is environmentally friendly – reducing plastic waste and saving the energy needed to transport traditional luting material. • It promotes the welder’s health and wellbeing – with less time spent kneeling and reduced stress. The self-sealing mould proved extremely popular with welders working on the Nexus project. ‘It’s quick, simple and saves time kneeling down on the track,’ explained Shane Jennings, one of the welding team. ‘The weld is clean and lines are defined, with no blemishes. Collar formation is spot-on every time.’ Rather than the large CJ2 crucible, the Pandrol Advanced process uses the smaller, CJ1 one-shot
The Autoseal Mould
Startwel electronic ignition system
The Tyne and Wear Metro in north east England is a light rail network that covers over 48 miles and serves a total of 60 stations. Owned and operated by Nexus, it serves as the rapid transit system linking South Tyneside and Sunderland with Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside and Newcastle Airport. As part of renewing rail in a tunnel on the metro system, Nexus needed 140 aluminothermic welds to be completed in a tight timescale. Possession times were short, with access to the track from 1am to 4am, Sunday to Thursday. Railway contractor GPX Engineering was appointed to deliver the welding services, including inspection and certification. Teams of welders began work using the Pandrol PLA one-shot crucible welding process.
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changes to the internal mould design to create a fracture point so that the welder can simply hit off the vent riser with a hammer after 20 minutes, instead of having to use an angle grinder. The whole Pandrol Advanced process is managed through the Pandrol Connect welding app on the welder’s mobile phone. Rather than recording data by hand, the welder inputs data into the app before, during and after welding. This is then reviewed by welding controllers and monitored from the office.
Using the Pandrol Connect Welding App
crucible, which is suitable for all standard gap and HWR welds (98.5% of all Pandrol welds cast in the UK in 2019). Pre-installed with a Startwel electronic ignition system, the CJ1 design makes it safer and easier to ignite the portion within the crucible. By using the CJ1 crucible as part of the Pandrol Advanced process, Nexus saved on waste, cost and transportation (the CJ2 is 2kg heavier and its traditional igniter is classed as explosives). Further savings and efficiencies were achieved by: • the introduction of an improved cooling procedure that saves 10 minutes per weld • the use of a semi-automatic weld shearer to remove the excess weld, which has ergonomic lifting points for ease of use
The transition to the Pandrol Advanced process went smoothly on the Nexus project and the client, GPX Engineering and welders were all delighted with both the process and its outcomes. The welds were completed during the allotted night shifts, on time and with no defects. An estimated 20 minutes was saved per weld – a considerable time-saving across the whole project. Using the Pandrol Connect app improved traceability and cut down on paperwork. GPX Engineering and the welding team were extremely positive about the new process. ‘It’s much quicker and more efficient than traditional methods and the failure rate was zero,’ says Paul Marshall, Technical Lead at GPX. ‘Our welders loved it – in particular, taking out the luting procedure makes the welding process so much easier and less stressful. And there are clear safety benefits every step of the way. We will definitely use Pandrol Advanced again.’ Furthermore, Nexus were extremely pleased with the quality of service GPX had delivered: The customer service from GPX has been to a high standard – everybody I’ve been in contact with has been attentive and helpful.
Network Rail using innovative fibre-optic technology to boost railway safety and performance Network Rail has awarded a contract to a consortium led by Thales Ground Transportation Systems Ltd to develop and trial Fibre Optic Acoustic Sensing (FOAS) technology that will support improvements in safety and performance on the railway. FOAS technology will be enriched with data fusion to enhance the ‘listening’ capabilities of optical fibres, of which there are already around 20,000km running alongside Britain’s railways. The implementation of this technology – effectively creating a virtual microphone every few metres – has the potential to enhance remote condition monitoring of assets and provide valuable data to improve train performance and reduce disruption for passengers. The awarding of the contract follows a Design Contest launched in November 2020, led by Network Rail in collaboration with Dutch rail
infrastructure operator ProRail, which challenged over 40 suppliers of different sizes to come up with proposals for a funded 12-month outcome-focused trial of FOAS, IoT sensors and smart CCTV cameras, amalgamated through intelligent data fusion and processing. Companies were required to address four areas of operational challenges on the railway: • Train movement and position reporting • Rail and wheel defects • Level crossing safety management • Detecting trespass and people on the trackside The trial work with Thales’ successful bid – featuring a consortium comprising SMEs to deliver different parts of the technology – will be conducted at Network Rail’s RIDC Melton test track, and on the mainline railway from Melton Mowbray to Leicester, commencing in Autumn 2021.
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Speed and Power of the Locomotive
The following article is taken from a report in the Morning Herald on Monday 15th June 1846 by one of their staff reporters. On Saturday, a public experiment for the purpose of “exhibiting the economy and tractive capacity of the broad gauge locomotive” was made on the Great Western line to and fro between London and Bristol. The experiment was an extremely valuable one, inasmuch as it is the first by which the Great Western Company have had it in their Power to test the capacity of the broad-gauge engine against that of the narrow-gauge engine. In the experiments made on the Great North of England Railway under the superintendence of the gauge commissioners, the narrow gauge party worked their passenger trains of 50 and 80 tons with a locomotive that had had applied to it every improvement of which the narrow-gauge engine was considered to be capable to enable it to run at high velocities. But with 50 tons not more than a maximum velocity of 56 or 57 miles per hour, nor more than an average of about 48 miles per hour, could be attained, with 80 tons the maximum speed was about 50, and the average speed about 44 miles per hour. At these speeds the motion of the engine was considered so dangerous that Professor Airy, one of the commissioners, declined to ride on her a second time. These speeds, it will be recollected were some miles per hour below those attained by the old broad-gauge engine upon similar gradients, and with similar loads. The world has now to compare them with the working of the new broadgauge engine - the first of a class - called the "Great Western," some details of the speed and power of which were given a few days since in the Morning Herald. It will be found, from the comparative working given below, that the "Great Western" takes a passenger train of something more than one hundred tons at seven miles faster per hour than the new narrow-gauge locomotive propelled fifty tons; that she took the one hundred tons eleven miles faster per hour than the new narrow gauge engine carried the eighty tons, and that the work was done at less than half the cost at which the narrow gauge engine works. The great national importance of these two facts must be evident to those who consider that the amount of railway traffic on the trunk lines of this country is increasing with extraordinary rapidity, that the London and Birmingham cannot manage its present traffic with the speed and regularity which the public have a right to expect, and that in
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The Great Western
truth the propriety of constructing a second double line between Euston Square and Birmingham has for some title past been seriously contemplated. Such a passenger train, as the "Great Western" can propel at a maximum speed of 70 and an average speed of about 50 miles per hour would require two or three narrow-gauge locomotives to propel it at 38 or 40 miles per hour. But the use of more than one engine has been pronounced by Sir Frederic Smith himself to be dangerous, and the expense of their use shuts them, in a commercial point of view, entirely out of comparison with the economical working of the new gauge engine. The other important advantage of the “Great Western" arises from the amount of surplus power she would always have at command in running passenger trains of - say 80 tons, at an average rate of 45 miles hour; that is, from platform to platform - a performance utterly beyond anything that the new narrow-gauge engine could approach in the ordinary working of a train; This surplus power is of the most serious commercial advantage. It enables the engine driver to keep his time at the stations, and therefore ensures regularity, a matter of as much moment as speed itself. Punctuality at stations in railroad travelling is the means of avoiding accidents, many of the most serious of which have, if I recollect rightly, arisen from trains being late between station and station. A locomotive like the "Great Western" - able, as she has proved herself, to run under a serious disadvantage, with 100 tons 116 miles (as she did down on Saturday), viz., from the 1st to the 117th mile post, including 9 minutes lost in stoppages, in 142 minutes, or at about 49 miles per hour, and to run she did likewise on Saturday) from the 118th to the 1st milepost, including upwards of 16 minutes' stoppages, in 111.7 minutes, or at 45 miles per hour, will, when she gets into proper order, be able to maintain in ordinary seasons
under ordinary circumstances an average speed of 50 miles per hour over a line of any length, whether it be one from London to Exeter, or from London to Edinburgh. The train attached to the "Great Western," on Saturday consisted of ten carriages; seven of them were weighted with pig iron and the three other carriages took down a full complement of passengers. Among the gentlemen who went down were Mr. Charles Russell, M.P., the chairman. of the company; the Marquis of Chandos, Lord John Scott, Major General Pasley, R. F. Gower, Mr. W. Tothill, Mr. H. Simonds, Mr. John Roskell, Mr. Brunel, Mr. C. A. Saunders, Mr. D. Gooch, Capt. Claxton, Mr. T. Holroyd, &c. Table 1 Comparison of Narrow and Broad Gauge Trains with loads of 50, 80 and 100 tons Mile posts. 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35
36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43
Narrow Gauge, with 50t. mph 3O 40 44 55 55 53 51 54 52 51 48 48 45 56 57 51 51 52 50 49 52 50 47 48 51 51 49 50 49 52 52 51 51 49
43 45 46 48 48 45 46 41
Narrow Broad Gauge Gauge With 80t with 100t mph mph 26 40 42 48 42 53 45 56 48 58 47 57 49 57 49 59 49 59 51 60 49 61 48 60 45 63 47 62 49 62 48 62 45 50 45 63 43 60 43 59 44 58 45 60 47 60 45 60 43 57 47 60 47 60 46 60 45 62 44 62 46 53 48 55 48 52 45 55
44 55 41 56 40 51 39 61 41 57 47 53 40 48 41 60
The train started from Paddington at 11 hour 47 min 52 sec. It passed the 1st mile post at 11 hour 51min 1 sec., and came abreast of the 52nd mile (immediately after which the breaks were put on for the stoppage at Didcot), at 12 hour 45 min. 24 sec., running, therefore, the 51 miles, with a rise of 118 feet, in a few seconds over 54 minutes, at an average speed of upwards of 56 miles per hour. Perhaps the best mode in which the tractive power of the broad and narrow gauge engines can be conveyed to the mind of the reader, is that of placing in juxta-position the working of the new narrow-gauge engine with loads of 50 and of 80 tons, with that of the new broad-gauge engine with hundred tons. I take the working of the narrow-gauge engines from the returns delivered into the gauge commissioners by the narrow-gauge party. I will first take the working of the narrow-gauge 50 tons train – See Table 1, columns 2 and 4 The 3rd and 4th columns in the above Table give the respective workings of the narrow-gauge engine with 80 tons, and of the broad-gauge engine with 1OO tons. At Didcot a stoppage of 5 min. 15 seg. took place. The milepost beyond Didcot, viz., the 54th, was passed at 12 hour 54 min. 27 sec., and the 75th milepost, just after passing which the breaks were put on for the stoppage at Swindon, was reached at 1 hour 18 min. 6 sec., the distance of 21 miles having been passed over in 23 min. 39 sec., or at the average rate of upwards of 54 miles an hour. At Swindon there was a stoppage of 4 min. 27 sec. The 78th milepost was passed at 1 hour 29 min. 30 sec., and the 98th milepost, which is a short distance on the Paddington side of the Box Tunnel, was reached at 1 hour 49 min. 26 sec., the 20 miles having therefore been accomplished in 19 min. 56 sec., or at upwards a mile per minute. The train came abreast of the 117th milepost at 2 hour 12 min. 3 see. This gives the time occupied in running the distance between the 78th and 117th as 42 min. 33 sec. for the 39 miles, or something like 53 miles per hour. The maximum speed on the down journey was obtained between the 83rd and 92nd mile posts. From the 80th to 85th mile there is a falling gradient of eight feet per mile, and from the 85½th to about the 86½th mile there is a falling gradient of about 1 in 100, and a fall of eight feet per mile then reaches to about the 90½ mile post; a rising gradient of eight feet per mile then succeeds, and extends beyond the 92nd mile post. The train came abreast of the 83rd mile post at 1 hour 34 min. 56 sec., and passed the 92nd mile post at 1 hour 43 min 8 sec., performing the 10 miles in 9 min. and 8 Sec., or at an average speed of nearly 66 miles per hour. The 87th and 88th miles on a falling gradient of eight feet per mile were run over at the rate of sixty-nine miles per hour. I made the speed of the train over the 88th mile seventy miles and a half per hour.
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Mr. Samuda (the patentee of the atmospheric), who kept time the whole of both journeys, made the speed 70 miles 'per hour, while a gentleman who attended from one of the narrow gauge companies made it 69½ per hour; but these slight differences will always occur when running at such velocities, seeing that the variation of only half a second by two persons keeping time will give a decrease or an increase of more than half a mile per hour. The performance of "The Great Western" was acknowledged by every person who went down by her to be an extraordinary one, far beyond anything that has hitherto been done by the most improved narrow-gauge engines; but the performance does not show the actual working power of the engine. The time occupied in starting from a state of rest till coming to a state of rest at Bristol was 2 hours 27 mins. 23 secs. The time lost while the train was at a state of rest at Didcot and Swindon was 7 mins. 39 secs., and the time lost in getting up speed when departing from, and reducing it when arriving at, the stations was 15 minutes. This reduces the time during which the engine was exerting her average tractive capacity to 2 hours 4 mins. 24 secs and shows such capacity to have been equal to a journey of 118 miles, with 100 tons, in 124 minutes 24 seconds; or at the rate of about 57 miles per hour. But the real working evaporative power of the engine was not obtained, and her pumps were, from some slight defect, which is being remedied, very far from effective. It appears that the blast was on for four and a quarter hours during the down and up journeys, and that 1298 cubic feet of water were evaporated. The evaporation was therefore equal to about 305 feet of water per hour. Now the area of the heating surface of the firebox is about 170 feet, and by the theory of the builder of this very locomotive (Mr. Daniel Gooch) - a theory which was borne out by the engineering evidence given before the gauge commission - each foot of heating surface should evaporate two cubic feet of water per hour. Therefore, the engine worked below her power to an extent of something like the evaporation of 35 cubic feet of water per hour. If this be correct the engine was working about 10 per cent, below her power. This may be accounted for by the large area of the blast pipe. In the details that I gave a few days since of the working of the engine with the usual express train, I stated that the blast pipe had been reduced. I believe that I was mistaken. The blast pipe is still a twelfth of the area of the cylinder. This is advantageous in some respects, but it reduces the evaporation to which such an engine would be equal if her blast pipe were reduced to the proportion which that of the celebrated lxion broad-gauge engine bears to her cylinder - viz., a sixteenth. The blast pipe of the new narrow-gauge engine that ran on the Great -North of England line was an eighteenth only of the area of her cylinder. The defect in the pumps was another serious
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drawback to the development of the power of the engine. At Slough the pumps were out of order, and near the 31 mile-post they ceased to work; the consequence was that the pressure on the boiler was obliged to be reduced and the fire slackened for several miles till the pumps were got in to work again. The engineer , who was fearful of his pumps , from the existence of the defect already adverted to, started with the water in the tank nearly cold, and the consequence was that when the pumps were got to work after they had ceased to perform their functions, it was necessary that they should pump quickly into the boiler a large quantity of water nearly cold. This of course, tended to decrease the speed of engine. A few minutes after the arrival of the experimental train at Bristol, the company partook of a very elegant déjeuner that had been prepared in the long room of the station. It was supplied by Mr. Niblett, the well-known proprietor of the White Lion Hotel. The turtle, hock, and champagne were - particularly to those who had been occupied by the dusty duty of timing the velocities of the engine - as acceptable as they were excellent. About 100 gentlemen sat down at table. Mr. C. Russell presided. Upon the removal of the cloth the Chairman gave the "Health of the Queen; which was loyally responded to. The Chairman then said—The next toast is one which you’re your presence here this day assures me you will receive with pleasure- It is, "Success to the Broad Gauge" (cheers). Gentlemen, it is the fashion, in the phraseology of the day, to call everything extraordinary a great fact. The AntiCorn Law League has been called a great fact. Now, I think that today we have witnessed a great fact (cheers ). The Great Western, new locomotive, most of you, I dare say, have inspected - it is in itself a great fact (hear). A train of 100, or nearly I believe, 110 tons, conveyed from London to Bristol in about 2 hours and 21 minutes is a great fact (cheers). The speed at which we have travelled, from 60 to 70 miles per hour, is another great fact and the ease, comfort, and the consciousness of safety you have experienced, is not only a great, but it is a very agreeable fact (cheers). Gentlemen, this is the plain, this the practical answer which we give to all the assertions of the advocates of the narrow gauge about " the power evaporation" and "dead weight," and the various other arguments I was going to call them, by which it has been attempted to mystify and to falsify this question (cheers). This is the answer that I give to the report proceeding from the gauge commission. Her Majesty's government, speaking through the enlightened President of the Board of Trade, has not thought fit to adopt the recommendations of the commissioners. It has not thought right to declare that the powers of enterprise, of invention, and of genius shall be limited within 4 feet 8½ inches (cheers). Gentlemen, what we have done today you have all experienced ; what we have yet
to do you have still to learn; for owing to one of those accidents which will accompany experiments of this character, the pumps of the locomotive got out of order in the neighbourhood of Slough, but for which a much higher speed than that which has been reached would have been attained. I may observe, that a higher velocity than is shown by the working of the engine today has been attained by it. Gentlemen, give us but and a fair field, and I have no doubt that the broad gauge will ultimately triumph (cheers). Leave it to itself, and it will vindicate itself. It will break through the cobweb trammels sought to be thrown around it; it will give to this great commercial country all the advantages it requires and it will afford those advantages not only to one but to all classes of the community. (cheers). Gentlemen, I beg leave to propose to you "The Broad Gauge” (cheers). The toast was drunk with three times three. Captain Claxton proposed the health of Mr. Brunel, which was drunk with three times three and one cheer more. Mr Brunel, with characteristic brevity, said emphatically , Gentlemen, I am very much obliged to you ." The health of the Chairman was next proposed with three times three. The Chairman said - l can assure you that since I have had the honour of presiding over the Great Western Company, it has been my most anxious desire to promote, by every means in my power, the convenience of the community at large. Gentlemen, I believe we have succeeded in our endeavours to promote that convenience (cheers). I may venture to say so, because it is not to me that the merit of having done so is to be ascribed. I have had the advantage of able and kind and considerate colleagues. I have had the inventive genius of my friend Brunel (loud cheers). I have had the administrative talent of my friend, Charles Saunders (loud cheers), and I have had the practical knowledge of Mr.
Gooch (cheers), by whom the Great Western engine was constructed. I should be a bad workman, indeed, if I could not work with such tools (cheers). Gentlemen, if I have any merit it is that I know their value and their worth; though I may lay claim to one other merit—a cordial, sincere desire to promote the interest and prosperity of the Great Western Company (cheers). The company then broke up and proceeded to the experimental train, which was in readiness for them. The speed of the engine over the up journey was, from Bristol to Paddington ' exclusive of 16 minutes lost while at a state of rest at Swindon and Didcot, about 50 miles per hour. The consumption of coke for the day's work, of 237 miles was equal to about 42lb. per mile. The cost of coke pre mile, taking the coke at 20s. per ton, would be about 4d per mile. Taking the other expenses, as stated in the returns exchanged between various railway companies, and given in evidence before the gauge commissioners, the items would stand thus:Per mile. Coke 4 pence Engine and firemen's wages 1.3 Cleaning engine and other general charges 1.9 Repairs 2.5 9.7 pence or about 9¾d per mile for 100 tons, at the above high velocities. The cost of working the new narrow-gauge engine that ran on the Great North of England line is stated to 1s. 7d. per ton per mile, or more than twice the expense of the" Great Western." The notion of the carriages, at the maximum velocity – viz 70 miles per hour, was perfectly easy. There was not anything approaching the unpleasant oscillation too frequently experienced while travelling in the express trains on the narrow gauge, particularly when the outside cylinder engine is employed.
Railway Intelligence - The Broad Gauge Six years later, the Sun reported on Friday 9th January1846 about the following trials with much heavier loads. On Thursday further experimental trips were made on the Great Western, to test the tractive capacity of the broad gauge engines with the heaviest goods trains. The trains were extraordinary tonnage, and the speed and power attained remarkable. The down trip train was 200 tons, exclusive of engine and tender, and consisted of about 28 trucks, weighted to a gross load with coal. It was drawn by the Hercules (1842-1870), 22 tons weight, with six wheels all coupled, and seven foot driving wheel, cylinder 16 inches, stroke 18 inches, firebox 97
square feet, tube 60 feet. The Ixion, lately used in the experimental passenger train trips, followed in the rear, also weighted with coal to a gross load of 200 tons, so as to furnish the Hercules, on its return trip to Paddington with a gross load of 400 tons. The Ixion, from being overworked in her late trip, broke her piston rod on the road soon after passing Slough, and was relieved by the engine Pollux. The down train started with fair weather and light south-west wind from the first milepost at 10h. 27m. 55s., and arrived at Didcot, 52 miles, at lh. 5m. ls., making the time occupied in the down trip 2h. 37m. 6s. ; but deducting the time for seven stoppages, amounting altogether to 42m. 20s., the trip was accomplished in 54m. 46., being at the
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rate of about 27 miles an hour. The following is a table of the working and mean practical results:— Table 1. Down trip with 200tons, exclusive of engine and tender. Number of Mileposts Time of passing each Mile Post. h. m. s. 1. 10 27 55 2 10 31 40 3 10 33 53 4 10 35 53 5 10 37 51 6 including stoppages 10 49 0 7 10 39 42 8 10 50 43 9 10 52 42 10 including stoppages 11 1 24 11 including stoppages 11 11 53 12 11 14 40 13 11 16 40 14 including stoppages 11 26 32 15 11 28 45 16 11 30 40 17 11 32 20 18 11 34 10 19 including stoppages 11 45 35 20 11 47 45 21 11 49 44 22 11 51 30 23 12 1 5 24 including stoppages 12 4 58 25 12 7 2 26 12 8 56 27 12 10 45 28 12 12 30 29 12 14 12 30 12 15 57 31 including stoppages 12 26 44 32 12 29 52 33 12 31 38 34 12 33 26 35 12 36 43 36 37 12 28 20 38 12 40 0 39 12 41 38 40 12 43 20 41 12 45 5 42 12 46 53 43 12 48 35 44 12 50 18 45 12 51 58 46 12 53 38 47 12 55 23 48 12 57 15 49 12 59 15 50 1 1 15 51 1 3 10 52 (Didcot) 151
stoppages, at 6h. 13m. 56s., having accomplished the distance in 2h. 8m. 20s., or at the rate of 24 1/3 miles per hour. The following are the tabulated results from the table of speeds attained by the narrow gauge, in the recent experiment on the York and Darlington, with a 400 tons train, reported in our impression of Monday. It appears that the journey of 43 miles was performed in 2h. 15w. 205., or at an average speed of about 19 miles an hour, being a less speed of 5 1/3 miles an hour than the Great Western, and with 10 miles less ground to work over. Table 2 Up trip with 400tons exclusive of engine and tender Number of Mile Posts. Time of passing each Mile Post. h. m s. 53 4 5 36 52 0 12 23 51 0 15 55 50 0 18 36 49 0 21 3 48 0 23 23 47 0 25 37 46 0 27 51 45 0 30 5 44 0 32 16 43 0 34 26 42 O 36 41 41 O 38 53 40 O 41 3 39 O 43 9 38 O 45 16 37 O 47 23 36 O 49 35 35 Missed post from 36½ to 34. 34 0 54 24 33 0 57 0 32 0 59 27 31 5 1 47 30 040 29 066 BECAME TOO DARK TO SEE POSTS Passing Slough Station 0 29 15 Passing West Drayton 0 44 46 Passing Southall 6 56 48 Passing Hanwell 0 0 36 Passing Ealing 0 4 22 At West London Junction 6 10 36 Arrived at the 1 Mile Post 0 13 56
The return train, with the same engine, and a leviathan load of 400 tons, started at 4h. 5m. 36s. from Didcot, and arrived at Paddington, exclusive of
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The Black Bridge and its Place in Welsh Railway History This is the story of how a small timber deck underline bridge which has been in service for 108 years has required innovative technology, human strength and £3.6 million to eliminate line closures due to flooding.
The Cambrian Line - A Chequered History of Ownership!
What we now know as the Cambrian Line was built in the mid-19th century, not by a single company but, by no less than five companies over a period of 14 years between 1855 and 1869. These were: • The Shrewsbury and Welshpool Railway (between Shrewsbury and Buttington), • The Oswestry and Newtown Railway (between Buttington Junction and Newtown), • The Llanidloes and Newtown Railway (between Newtown and Moat Lane Junction) • The Newtown and Machynlleth Railway (between Moat Lane Junction and Machynlleth), and • The Aberystwyth and Welsh Coast Railway (between Machynlleth and Aberystwyth/ Pwllheli). The section west of Buttington Junction became part of the Cambrian Railways in 1864, which in turn became part of the Great Western Railway under the Grouping Act of 1921. The chequered ownership continued as, on nationalisation these lines were operated first by the Western Region of British Railways and later by the London Midland Region. In a later reorganisation, passenger services were operated by the Regional Railways Central sector. Following privatisation in the mid-1990s, passenger services were first operated by Central Trains, then by Wales & Borders from 2001, Arriva Trains Wales from 2003 and, finally, Transport for Wales from 2018! Although the line escaped the Beeching Act, nevertheless 26 stations have been closed, although one, Bow Street, was reopened just this year and the reopening of Carno station
has been proposed and an application is at the final stages of approval. Today, in addition to its normal duties of providing services for people to get to work and for children to get to school, the line plays a key role as a scenic route, as well as linking many coastal resorts and connecting to seven narrow-gauge tourist lines (the Talyllyn Railway, Welshpool and Llanfair Railway, Ffestiniog Railway, Welsh Highland Railway and the Vale of Rheidol Railway). With long sections of single line and limited passing points, minor disruptions on the Cambrian Line quickly lead to compound delays and partial cancellations. This, combined with short turnaround times at each end of the route, led to severe unpunctuality during much of the first decade of the 21st century. The extension of the
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service to Birmingham International in late 2008 has helped address this by eliminating the tight turnarounds at the heavily congested Birmingham New Street station. Maintenance changes and additional padding in public timetables has also helped improve performance figures overall.
The Black Bridge
As mentioned above, because most of the line is single track, any disruption to the flow of traffic can rapidly bring the route to a halt, causing great distress to children, business travellers and the tourist trade. During the present century there has been a major problem with a small bridge located just east of Machynlleth, known as The Black Bridge – coincidentally apposite for its recent reputation! This bridge is in a narrow valley and is home to the Afon Dulas or North Dulas river which forms the border between Merionethshire/Gwynedd and Montgomeryshire/Powys in Wales. Another river called Afon Dulas joins the Dyfi from the south, upstream of its confluence with the North Dulas: locally this is referred to as the South Dulas. The Afon Dulas rises from a source in the hills above Aberllefenni and passes through Corris, Esgairgeiliog and Pantperthog before joining the Afon Dyfi at Ffridd Gate near Machynlleth. The Dulas is recorded as an important land boundary in 1200 and, in a document written in 1428, the land owned by Einion ap Seisyllt, in the time of Llywelyn the Great, is described as "tota terra inter aquas de Dyfi et Delwas" (Latin, meaning: all the land between the rivers Dyfi and Dulas). It ultimately flows into the River Dyfi and hence to the Irish Sea. The South Dulas rises in Glaslyn, below the slopes of Foel Fadian, and passes the hamlet of Forge and Plas Dolguog before joining the Dyfi. Close to its confluence with the Dyfi, it is crossed by the Cambrian Line on a bridge known as the Black Bridge and this is where our story begins! The Black Bridge is just to the east of Machynlleth, on the stretch of the Cambrian originally built by the The Newtown and Machynlleth Railway, which
An Aberystwyth to Carmarthen train at Talerddig Summit (Ben Brooksbank)
built the line from a junction with the Llanidloes and Newtown Railway near Caersws to the market town of Machynlleth. The topography of the district was challenging, and a practicable line had to be routed north of the most mountainous region and climb steeply. Newtown and Llanidloes were centres of flannel manufacture at the time and, in frustration, promoted their own railway joining the towns as there were no railway lines in Central Wales at that time. The Llanidloes and Newtown Railway was authorised in 1853 and opened in 1859. The L&NR was not connected to any other line, but encouraged by the development, another railway was locally promoted: the Oswestry and Newtown Railway. This was authorised in 1855 and opened in stages from 1860, eventually connecting to the Shrewsbury and Chester Railway, and thence the developing English network, at Oswestry in Shropshire. A solicitor based in Machynlleth, named David Howell, made energetic moves to form a railway, beginning with a public meeting on 20 December 1856 at Machynlleth. There was support for a railway, and the engineer Benjamin Piercy prepared plans for a route. A 23-mile line from the Llanidloes
Machynlleth Station about 1885
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The Start of the Flooding Problems
The Black Bridge with the South Dulas in flood in March 2021!
and Newtown Railway near Caersws to Machynlleth was shown to be feasible. It involved a climb from 412 feet to a summit of 693 feet at Talerddig with a maximum gradient of 1 in 71, and an even steeper descent to near sea level at Machynlleth with four miles at 1 in 52 to 1 in 60. The Newtown and Machynlleth Railway was incorporated by Act of 27 July 1857, with authorised capital of £150,000. The Bill was unopposed in Parliament. The first sod was cut in November 1858, the delay suggesting land acquisition and money-raising difficulties. There was to be a tunnel at the Talerddig summit, but this was changed to a cutting in the rock. Briwnant-Jones suggests that the rock material was found to be suitable for the construction of bridges on the line, and that the change had a beneficial effect on the contractors' costs. When made, the cutting was 120 feet in depth: for some years this was the world's deepest railway cutting. Flat-bottom rails were specified for the permanent way, but this was changed to bullhead rail between Caersws and Talerddig. The N&MR now set about getting Board of Trade approval to open the line for passenger operation, and Captain Henry Tyler made two visits; on the second occasion, 30 December 1862, he approved the opening subject to some conditions. Trains started operating the following day, 31 December 1862. However, it appears that the construction contractor (Davies) conveyed some goods wagons and possibly passengers unofficially before that. A grand opening ceremony was held on 3 January 1863.
The line appeared to run smoothly until the start of the present century but then problems started to occur with flooding around the Black Bridge. From just a couple of incidents a year at the start of the century, this had risen to eight in 2018 and a total of around 30 by the present time. Sadly, these incidents last several days with the bridge deck under water, making the passage of the diesel trains impossible. It was at this point that Transport for Wales and Network Rail decided that this could not continue as the likelihood of more incidents occurring each year was going to be exacerbated by climate change bringing more rain on the surrounding Welsh hills, and hence flooding of the South Dulas river at the Black Bridge. So, what is the problem? The problem is that when there is a heavy rainfall in the surrounding mountain area, the water collects in the North and South Dulas rivers and passes on downstream, close to its confluence with the Dyfi, and it is here that the restriction caused by the bridge causes the water level to rise, ofttimes above track level in just an hour or two, making it impassable to trains. The bridge itself is at a slight angle and skews over the South Dulas. Because the bridge abutments are aligned with the river, when the water level rises, the eastern pier tends to collect the debris, creating two impacts – hydrodynamic and hydrostatic – against the bridge. It is for this reason that it was decided that something had to be done to get the bridge at track level out of the flood zone. Each time the bridge was typically closed for several days and if was once or twice a year, it probably wouldn’t have had much impact but now it obviously it is becoming continual. Because of the nature of the land that the train goes through, there would be a certain tolerance level among the passengers – once or twice you can live with but when it is eight times in a year, especially during the Summer months, it doesn’t really bode well and it’s not just the tourists. If you go right down among the passenger lists, the TOC is there to run a railway – Transport for Wales wants to run trains to move passengers around and people want to go to work and school – if they can’t do that then, essentially, TfW is not providing a service. This is the whole reason for doing this. People want to be able to go to work and children want to go to school. It also leaves large sections of the Cambrian Line in central Wales isolated.
Work on the Bridge and Ecology
The initial surveys and designs, carried out in the Autumn of 2020, showed that it was necessary to lift the bridge by 1m from its present position to clear the flood zone for a once in a 150-year period. Once the flood zone is reached then it would have to be an extreme amount of water, even with the
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(Top) An aerial view of the site (Above) May 2021 (Right) Thursday May 13 2021, Workbegins!
bottleneck of the bridge to cause another problem. Another problem was that the South Dulas is a fish spawning river and so there was only going to be a narrow window when the work could be carried out. As a result, negotiations and discussions were carried out with Natural Resources Wales and ecological specialists to do everything possible to protect this sensitive local environment. It was necessary to work out how people, materials, plant, and equipment could be moved to site, where and how to set up the site compounds and obtaining the necessary licenses from Natural Resources Wales. It is here that Chris Howchin, Capital Delivery, Works Delivery, Wales Route, Network Rail, takes over the story, “The initial design was done 12 months ago but the designs themselves were constantly being revised as the timescales were incredibly tight – getting from design concept to completion in just 12 months. We couldn’t go into the water course during the winter months for environmental reasons, so various assumptions were made, for example on the pre-existing abutments, they would be good for when the bridge was built, but when you start adding more concrete weight on top, were they robust enough to take the added tonnage on top. We assumed that there
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was going to be a lot of work that we needed to do, more reinforcements, more steelwork going in, the amount of material that we needed to pull in. We looked at putting some innovation into the track so you don’t have to have such a wide area, so you could thin it down as you go up. That saved on a lot of cost.” “The basis of this innovative system, known as The BaFix system, is that if you think of an L-beam that you would normally use for a retaining wall and the bottom part of that “L” is where the material would be stacked on while the upright part of the ‘L’ is used for retention – it’s the same system that is used for ballast stone. What it does is to retain it and to provide a fixing for a handrail as you don’t want track workers falling down a 2-foot high step, it also provides room for a walkway – the structure is wide enough to provide this. You have now got the retention so that rather than having a lot of material outside on the angle of repose, trying to make the embankment stable, we now use this system. As a result, we saved about 3,000 tons of stone that needed to go in. It gave us a massive decrease in costs but also time, labour, the plant that was needed just to move all that material. We
(Top left) and (Left) The Bafix System in place (Above) Clearing the decks)
(Below) Manual lifting in action
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needed the railway to move in 7,000 tons of stone and ballast which came in by train ahead of the blockade – if we had had to bring in another 50%, we would have needed more possessions, more plant to get it off so it was a cost saving all the way round. It was the first time that we had used this technology – we had been planning to use it at some time on another site but that never materialised. It has been used elsewhere in the UK in a couple of places and Irish Rail are just starting to use it, but it was the first time in Wales.” “We had just six weeks for the work, beginning on the 15th May and finishing on the 26th June, with the railway scheduled to resume services on the 28th. During this time, the railway was obviously closed to public train services. Transport for Wales supplied rail replacement services between Machynlleth and Shrewsbury during this time. The first stage was to clear as much as possible ready to do the bridge lift itself. We removed some of the track but obviously we needed the track to move materials on to the site, it was like peeling it back on either side and then we removed the old ballast and stone which was sent for recycling – it was washed and graded ready to be used again elsewhere so there was no wastage nor any environmental pollution. The stone and ballast that we used had been washed and graded before being brought to site.” “We then had a problem on site with Knotweed. It had to be contained as hazardous waste and we noticed that one of the lineside neighbours also had a problem with it, so we encompassed that within the management plan – we did not know where it had come from so the easiest thing was to build it into our plan. You could say that the landowner would be pleased – it was actually the owner of the adjacent hotel where we stayed – it was an advantage having hotel accommodation so close by and we were both on a win-win situation – we had somewhere close by to accommodate our employees and they had a full hotel!” “Just as we started our blockade, the river levels came up due to a weather system that went through, so we had to evacuate the site just two days in until the water levels had receded. Because of the known volatility of the area, we already had an evacuation plan in place, just in case but we then had a mad scurry to remove people plant and equipment as quickly as we could. Fortunately, we had a good 24 hours’ notice.”
“We peeled back the track from the bridge and while that was happening, we started to install temporary works which involved cradling underneath the bridge with I-beams and installing “trees” on to the abutments – these were to be used for lifting the bridge – and were connected to the cradles underneath. We then manually lifted the bridge 1.2m up off the abutments. An engineering safety
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(Top and Centre) Reinforcing the foundations with the bridges lifted (Lower) The reinforced bridge mounts
risk assessment had been done – this was because we needed the precision, which we could not get from hydraulic jacking. It is unusual in the 22nd century but the problem arose from the fact that the deck was in two halves and we fitted four jacking points on each half – they could not be separated; the bridge itself is over 100 years old but it is in fairly good condition, the steelwork is in good
(Top) The raised bridge nearing completion (Above left) An aerial view showing the new trackbed and work in progress on the bridge (Top right) A train bound for Birmingham Interntional passes over the bridge
condition and what we did not want to do was to create any buckling or twisting in the bridge itself and then have to come back to carry out steelwork repairs. From an engineering perspective, the methodology was to get that millimetre precision without any twist plus we had an additional problem in that the track was on a curve, in addition to the skew of the bridge, so the lifting points were not always equal to maintain the balance of the bridge deck. As a result, manually lifting a millimetre at a time was the preferred option. The safety risk assessment suggested that just under 13 km of chain needed to be pulled and we needed to swop shifts so there was a rotation of people going in to pull the chains. Each deck is about 40tonnes, there were 8 lifting points and
each winch was 20tonnes capacity so we could have lifted 160tonnes if needed and hence the block and tackle was well over engineered – it was more about the precision and preventing any damage. Eight, 20 tonne chains were used in total and for every 10 meters of chain pulled, the bridge was raised just 10mm! This resulted in more than 12,800 metres of chain being pulled through the lifting blocks for this challenging lift, which took a lot of strength from the teams on the ground.” “Once the bridge decks had been lifted to 1.6m above the starting position, there was a lot of work to be done around the existing abutments and we used these as a form and extended the formwork off them. These abutments obviously date back to when the bridge was originally built in 1913 and were adequate for the load, they were designed to carry at that time but, with the added concrete which we were putting on top, there needed to be some added steelwork and concrete work around
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them to give them more stability. Once the bridge had been lifted and was resting securely on the temporary works, we went in and installed the new bearings to keep it in position. When these were in place, the decks were lowered on to the bearings and we were then ready to start putting it all back together.”
Another Environmental Problem
“An interesting story! Just prior to going on to site, we found we had two nests of Yellow Wagtails. The ecologists had been round checking all the environmental points where we would be working as we were doing all we could to limit any impact upon the environment. One ecologist found these two Yellow Wagtail nests which had been built on the girders of the bridge! We could not do any work on the structure at that time as there was no way that we could disturb them, quite rightly, and when the ecologists went in and checked and there were eggs in the nests. They could pinpoint the day that the eggs were laid, and their calculations predicted that the eggs would fledge the day before the blockade was scheduled to start so there was more interest in these Yellow Wagtails than would normally be the case! Fortunately for us, they fledged TWO days before the blockade was due to start. We did think whether we should bring in extra feed – grubs and things for the Mum and the Dad to feed them and their chicks but, according to the ecologists, they appeared to be doing well on the local environment. It was a good news story as they are a protected species in that area and so it was nice to see another two pairs breeding quite happily.”
Chris summed up by saying, “One of the key things that came out of this project was the tremendous teamwork shown by everybody involved. I have been on the railways for over 20 years, and I can honestly say that it is one of the best projects that I have worked on. Everybody has been keen to rise to the challenge of this unusual job. The contractors that we used have been on our framework for several years and they were just as keen as we were
to see it completed to a high standard and on time and, being the first in Wales, everybody wanted to be a part of it. As well as Network Rail, there was AmcoGiffen as the principal contractor but in total there were 49 contractors and suppliers involved. Network Rail engineers were the project managers but also did all the design work, the piers, the abutments, the steelwork structure and it was also our internal track teams who re-laid the track afterwards. A total of 360 engineers clocked up more than 32,000 hours to deliver this innovative project, in just six weeks, with the line reopening on schedule.” Kevin Giles, senior asset engineer for Network Rail Wales and Borders, said: "This is a big project for us at Network Rail and the first time a railway bridge will have been raised away from flood waters in Wales. The issues of flooding on this line go back more than three decades and the result is that large sections of the Cambrian line in central Wales end up cut-off and isolated while repair work is carried out. We want to ensure our passengers have more reliable journeys and this project highlights our dedication to making the railway more resilient in Wales.” Andy Crowley, Operations Director Wales and Western at AmcoGiffen, commented: “With nine months from concept to completion, we knew from the outset that it was going to be challenging to deliver this scheme in such a short timescale. We also understood the necessity behind the risk being taken. Collaboration was crucial from the start and when severe weather hit the early days of the project, we all worked together to recoup the lost time and maintain our schedule. It’s important to acknowledge the true team spirit that has been part of this intense scheme from start to finish and we’re delighted to have played our part.” Alexia Course, Transport for Wales’s Transport Operations Director, added: “The innovative work carried out by Network Rail will help us to provide a more reliable service on this important line during periods of bad weather. We understand disruption is frustrating for our customers, and we’d like to thank them for their patience while the work has taken place over the last six weeks.
Class 66 locomotive named in honour of partnership between GB Railfreight, Prostate Cancer UK and the League Managers Association Class 66 66769’s new name of ‘League Managers Association’ comes along with a special livery featuring Prostate Cancer UK’s well-known logo ‘the Man of Men’ and was unveiled at Victoria Station in London. Following the naming ceremony, guests were treated to a special charter service hauled by locomotive through the Kent countryside. GB Railfreight (GBRf) will also be running a 4-day rail tour which will support Prostate Cancer UK. The tour will be called ‘GBRf 2021’ and is the third 4-day rail tour organised by the rail freight
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company, with the two previous charity charters raising more than £250,000. A partnership between GB Railfreight and Prostate Cancer UK was announced in January 2020 and all fund-raising ventures carried out by GBRf being in support of the UK-wide organisation and its mission to beat prostate cancer. Prostate Cancer UK is the official charity for the LMA which is a vital partnership in raising awareness of Prostate Cancer which is the most common cancer in men.
The Carriage of Fruit by the GWR/BR (Western) Early wagons on the GWR were always open at the top, but from the 1860s, covered vans were built in ever increasing numbers. These 'Mink' vans were initially constructed from wood but, between 1886 and 1902, iron was used instead and more than 4,000 such vehicles were built. Most were rated at 9 or 10 tons, but some 36 feet bogie vans rated at 30 tons were also built in 1902 and 1911. These were identified by the 'Mink F' telegraphic code. Construction of wooden-bodied vans resumed in 1902 but, unlike the vans with wooden body frames of forty years earlier, these were built using iron angle section frames. Standard 'Minks' built in 1902 were 16 feet long and 7 feet high inside. The height was increased on new vans built during the next few years, first by a little over 6 inches, then again to just over 8 feet, but it eventually settled on the middle height. Ventilators which could be closed by shutters were fitted in some vans (code 'Mink A') but these later became hooded vents. Until 1921, four-wheeled vans were generally rated at 10 tons, but improvements then allowed this to be increased to 12 tons. From 1927, vans were built to a 17.5 feet length. Larger vans continued to be produced, first of all 21 feet long ('Mink B', or 'Mink C' with ventilators), and then 28.5 feet ('Mink D' with ventilators). These were only rated at 10 tons but, in 1931 30 feet long 20 ton vans were built ('Mink G').
Vans for special loads included shock-absorbing vans with the body anchored to the underframe by springs (diagrams V27 and V28) and grain hoppers (V20). Perishable traffic was carried in 'Mica' ventilated (X1) and 'Mica A' or 'Mica B' refrigerated (X2 etc.) meat vans, 'Bloater' fish vans (S6 etc.), or fruit vans with extra ventilation (although banana vans were fitted with heating equipment to help ripen their loads). All wagons for public traffic had a code name that was used in telegraphic messages. This was usually painted on to the wagon and it became common to refer to them by these names even when not using the telegraph. Many had an extra letter added to identify distinctive features, for example a ‘Macaw A’ was a 17 feet bolster wagon, but a ‘Macaw B’ was a 45 feet bolster wagon. The fruit wagons were, unsurprisingly, called “Fruit”. With very few exceptions, all GWR wagons were allocated a page in a diagram book that showed its major dimensions and characteristics. Each page had an alpha-numeric identification; the letters gave the general type of wagon, while the numbers identified more detailed characteristics of the wagons. For example, O8 was a 25 feet open wagon, but V8 was a 28.5 feet banana van while V7 was a 21 feet ventilated goods van.Fruit vans were given the Code “Y”.
Strawberries being loaded at the London & South Western Railway’s Swanwick Station, c.1913. The Hampshire strawberry harvest lasted only six weeks in the middle of the year, whilst over sixty per cent of the fruit traffic handled at Swanwick was soft fruit.
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Fruit C at Didcot
Some Examples of GWR/BR (Western) Fruit Vans BR Western Region ‘Fruit D’ van No W92097W “Fruit D” 92097 was built in 1958 by British Railways’ Swindon Workshops and was produced as part of an extension batch of an outdated design created by the Great Western Railway in 1939. The Fruit D design was so named as during Great Western Railway days each type of wagon was assigned a telegraphic code to enable formations of wagons to be easily communicated by telegraph. As this type of van had extra ventilation built in specifically to handle fruit and produce traffic it was assigned the designation “Fruit”. The D suffix was merely to identify separate types or batches, so presumably the Fruit D was the fourth in a series of Fruit vans. The Fruit D’s were built with electric lighting and were fully braked with standard vacuum braking, Cider apples being unloaded
GWR fruit Van in its original 1902 livery (47886) and in its later restored condition (2356)
two features which made the vehicles suitable for conveyance in passenger trains. For this reason, the vans also carried the branding “Passenger” and during British Railways days carried the colour schemes for passenger coaching stock rather than goods stock. After a successful career on BR, 92097 was acquired by the M&GN Society and moved to the North Norfolk Railway where it operated in freight (and occasionally passenger), repainted into BR crimson livery. By 2012, the vehicle was looking worse for wear and was brought into the workshops and stripped down, exterior woodwork replaced, new floor fitted, interior restored, underframe repainted and finally the exterior painted into Great Western Railway colours, a scheme that 92097 (being built by BR) actually never carried. GWR Y2 Fruit Van No 47886 Fruit Vans had louvered sides for ventilation. It has vacuum brakes, allowing it to run at express speeds in passenger trains. In later years these vans were reclassified and renumbered in the passenger stock lists and were painted in passenger livery, first crimson lake and then chocolate brown. 47886 is one of twenty vans built in 1892 to Diagram Y2 under lot 638. This vehicle currently carries a 1904 G.W.R. livery, having previously been restored as a ‘brown vehicle’ in a later GWR livery and carrying its later number of 2356.
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National Strategy to Boost Accessibility for Disabled Passengers – A Start at Reading Disabled passengers will have better access to public transport and a bigger say in how they travel, under a new strategy which will boost inclusivity across the entire network. On Wednesday 28th of July the Department for Transport unveiled a range of initiatives to remove barriers and improve confidence for disabled people as they return to trains, buses and taxis after the pandemic. An audit of all UK train stations, originally pledged in the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail, is now underway – helping to identify improvements and highlighting existing areas of excellence. The findings will form a new public database so that people can better plan their journeys and, which, along with input from disabled passengers, will shape future investment in accessible rail travel. DfT will also work with Network Rail to improve safety with a new programme to install tactile paving on all station platforms. This comes on top of work to develop a Passenger Assist App to simplify communication with rail staff and encourage better customer service. The Government will bring forward new regulations to force bus companies to provide audible and visual announcements on board services. To help smaller companies achieve this, Government grants will be boosted to £3.5m. New research into the designs of bus-stops and stations will ensure they are accessible for all. The Department will also support new legislation for taxis and private hire vehicles, protecting disabled passengers from being overcharged and to better ensure they get the right help from drivers. Accessibility Minister, Chris Heaton-Harris, said: "Disabled passengers should be empowered to use all forms of transport with the same confidence as everyone else – whether by train, taxi, bus or ferry. Today’s measures will have a positive, reallife impact and double-down on our promise to building back fairer from Covid." There is also a boost to seaports, with new £1million funding to improve access at ports to the Isle of Wight and Isles of Scilly. In addition, the Department will work with consumer groups to design more accessible chargepoints for Electric Vehicles, as the industry steers away from fuel burning cars. Alongside local authorities, DfT will work to reduce parking on pavements to de-clutter our streets and free up paths, so vulnerable pedestrians can make journeys more safely and easily. An announcement on next steps will be made later this year. And for longer journeys, new £450,000 funding will help deliver more accessible toilets, through the Changing Places programme, on top of the £2.2 million already invested, to ensure most motorway
The new Assisted Travel Lounge at Reading Station
services have the right facilities for the quarter of a million people who cannot use standard accessible ones. Anthony Smith, chief executive of the independent watchdog Transport Focus, said: “It’s important that transport operators seek the views of disabled people to make sure services better suit their needs as the country recovers from the pandemic. These measures will help remove barriers and improve access for all transport users.” Robert Burley, Director of Campaigns, Care and Support at Muscular Dystrophy UK, said: “We regularly hear from people living with musclewasting conditions who have had to cancel or cut short days out, or don’t consider them at all, because of poor accessibility. This strategy is a step in the right direction to helping tackle the exclusion that so many disabled people face on a daily basis.” The measures are part of the Government’s National Disability Strategy – the most ambitious endeavour to remove barriers to disabled people’s everyday lives. It makes solid commitments and sets out immediate practical steps to create a society that works for everyone. These include building more supported housing, providing £300m to improve accessibility in schools and improving access to cultural venues. It follows the “It’s everyone’s journey” campaign, launched in 2020 to champion equal access across all forms of public transport and encourage people to be more considerate and supportive of others when using the transport network.
Reading Station starts things Off!
The new lounge opened on Tuesday 29 June and offers passengers with reduced mobility seating at higher levels, accessible interactive information screens and phone and electronic device charging facilities. The lounge is being operated by GWR who have a customer ambassador on hand to help any passengers requiring assistance. Initially, it will be open seven days a week between the hours of 10am to 6pm.
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Bernadette Sachse, Network Rail stations transformation insight lead, said: “It’s key for Network Rail to put passengers first by providing first-class service to them. Travelling through a busy railway station can be unnerving for those with additional needs but the new assisted travel lounge can provide a safe and friendly space to wait for trains and onward connections and get help from a dedicated team when needed.” Neil Craig, GWR's mobility and inclusion manager, said: “Previously over 160,000 people a year successfully used our assisted travel service, but we are always looking at how we can improve on what we offer, and reduce barriers for those with disabilities to travel by train.We hope this new waiting area will allow even more people to take advantage of our train services and will be monitoring its success closely.”
The ORR adds its Weight to the Programme
The Office of Rail and Road’s (ORR) annual rail consumer report shows that it has worked constructively across industry to deliver improvements for passengers, particularly on refund rights and accessibility, despite the challenges of the past year. The regulator also sets out its focus for the coming year on locking in these improvements through monitoring and enforcing adherence to its accessibility requirements. The rail regulator has made significant progress in ensuring the delivery of commitments set out in its Accessible Travel Policy (ATP) guidance. All train and station operators are well on the way to having 30,000 passenger-facing staff trained in disability awareness and equality by the end of 2021, all websites now clearly display the crucial
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information needed about the passenger assistance service to support an assisted travel journey, and the regulator has reduced the notice period for booking assistance to six hours before travel. Next year, ORR’s focus will firmly remain on monitoring compliance with ATP requirements, particularly station accessibility information provided on train operator and National Rail Enquiries websites, and continuing research to assess whether improvements are being delivered across the whole industry. ORR will also be looking to secure improvements for passengers on simplifying delay compensation and improving complaints processes. In 2020-21 the regulator made a number of key interventions with train companies to secure improvements such as to the reliability of booked assistance, the introduction of new mobile assistance teams, and the quality of information provided to passengers ahead of major station closures. ORR stepped in to ensure Eurostar amended the information provided to passengers on their right to a cash refund for cancelled services and played a role in supporting the government’s efforts to protect public health, taking on a new area of responsibility to monitor and enforce compliance with international travel regulations applying to both Eurotunnel and Eurostar. Stephanie Tobyn, deputy director for consumers at ORR said: “Train and station operators must be commended for how they have adapted over the past 12 months. In a challenging year, ORR has helped the industry continue to make progress particularly around accessibility. We’re now focusing on making sure that they remain fixed on meeting passengers’ needs as they return.
Bristol Temple Meads Given a New Lease of Life! This elderly station, which has played such a key part in the history and success of the Great Western Railway and its successors, is being given a complete face lift to renew the faith and pride that Isambard Kingdom Brunel placed in this station when he built it back in 1840. A total of £132 million is being invested in the station and its approaches to ensure that it can meet the needs of an ever-growing population and demand for travel over the next decade. In addition, more money is being invested in the surrounding area with the aim of totally regenerating this key part of Bristol. James Durie, Chief Executive of Bristol Chamber of Commerce & Initiative at Business West said, “While many of us won’t have been taking the train over the past year as a consequence of Covid-19 measures and restrictions, in the years in the lead up to the pandemic we have been experiencing a big growth in rail journeys across the country and particularly for our region. While patterns of when people move may be changing, this growth is forecast to continue. And at a time when decarbonisation of how we travel is only rising in importance, being a major priority for government and local councils, the train is a sustainable way to do so. The programme actually got underway last year with capital work (£24m) to restore the fabulous Victorian roof over the main train shed at Bristol Temple Meads; not dissimilar to the work that took place at London Paddington, along with initial preparations for an important new eastern entrance to the station. The listed building consent and planning permission application for the new eastern entrance station building is now live on the Bristol City Council planning portal. As that work continues, the programme is further gathering
Digby Watts drawing of the frontage of the joint station (1871)
pace as a huge track upgrade starts next to Bristol Temple Meads.” “Temple Meads is a fundamental element of Temple Quarter and St Philip’s, the major growth area for Bristol and the south west, and one of the UK’s largest regeneration projects. The area around and to the east of the station is being transformed through large-scale development including the University of Bristol’s new Enterprise Campus and a series of high-profile schemes underway or moving close to commencement, such as the 200,000ft2 EQ zero carbon office development on Victoria Street, and the exciting plans by L&G for Temple Island. Over the next few years, many more people will be living, working, studying in and visiting Bristol – and in particular, the Temple and Redcliffe quarters of our city. We need the rail infrastructure improvement to be able to support this.” “So, from 10 July – 3 September, Network Rail is rebuilding Bristol East Junction, a crucial piece of
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Bristol Temple Meads in Broad gauge days
GWR 4073 Class 5076 Gladiator about to depart from Bristol Temple Meads (David Heys)
railway infrastructure that controls the flow of rail traffic from South Wales, the Midlands/North and from London into Bristol Temple Meads. Much of the track and signalling infrastructure that makes up the junction was actually installed in the 1960s. Times have changed, and so have the demands and needs of the railway, so this summer’s upgrade is not just about replacing worn out track, it’s about installing the junction in a new layout to better meet the needs of the modern day. That should mean good news for passengers and – as they start to return to the railway – good news for all commuters and of course business people.” Network Rail's new £132m junction will remove a bottleneck, helping trains to move more easily in and out of Bristol Temple Meads. This, and the introduction of a new line at the same time, will boost capacity, making way for an increase in services along the Severn Beach line and kickstarting the West of England Combined Authority’s MetroWest programme. There are plans for thousands more seats on trains serving the Bristol area, with new stations and reopened lines on the horizon too. On top of that, replacing the old track and signalling means there will be fewer faults and less delays for passengers in the immediate future. Signalling work also completed at the station over Christmas included relocating signals to make way for planned scaffolding towers, and to ensure a clear line of sight where scaffolding towers might otherwise obscure train drivers.
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Bristol Temple Meads (Rob Hawkins)
Further capital investment in and around Bristol Temple Meads is going to be needed into the future, to continue to improve our major station for Bristol and the south west and take rail services to the next level. Since the station opened on August 31, 1840 Sir Matthew Digby Wyatt, Percy Culverhouse and Francis Fox have added extensions and now Network Rail is set to transform the station with a £24m restoration of the Grade I listed Victorian roof. The two-year programme will involve extensive metal and woodwork repairs and the complete reglazing of the roof and platform canopies, as well as a new colour scheme. To celebrate 180 years of Bristol Temple Meads, Brunel was joined by Tim Bowles, the Mayor of the West of England, Peaches Golding the LordLieutenant of the County and City of Bristol, Mike Gallop the Western route director at Network Rail and Matthew Golton the interim managing director at GWR. Isambard Kingdom Brunel built the station in 1840 and, to mark the occasion, Network Rail and GWR celebrated its historic past with socially distanced celebrations including historic music by Edward Elgar being played across the platforms every hour, a history talk in the Passenger Shed, which is the oldest part of the station, a history exhibition in the underpass, the unveiling of The 180 clebrations at Bristol Temple Meads
commemorative benches and a special Brunelthemed top-hat style cake. Mike Gallop, Network Rail’s Western route director, said: “It was fantastic to see so many people enjoy the celebrations, and it is only right that we recognise the historic past of Bristol Temple Meads and look ahead to a very bright future. The station has been a gateway for millions of passengers commuting to work, visiting family or going on holiday for 180 years and remains one the most iconic stations in the entire country.” Matthew Golton, GWR’s interim managing director, said: “We really do owe an enormous debt of gratitude to Isambard Kingdom Brunel and those who followed him in helping to design one of the country’s most iconic stations here in Bristol. As we reflect on 180 glorious years of history, we can also look forward to a very exciting future. Over the next four years this gateway to the West of England is to undergo a major transformation, delivering more train services, improving existing services and enhancing the overall customer experience not just here in Bristol, but across the wider area.”.
Bristol East Junction
Network Rail has been given £132 million by the government to create a new layout just outside the station towards London. The eight-week project started on Saturday 10 July and is scheduled to finish on Friday 3 September. In addition to replacing the 1960s track and components, work is also ongoing to install new state of the art signalling equipment. In order to enable the main part of Temple Meads station to be closed during the 8-week period, at nearby Bedminster Station the operational lengths of platforms were temporarily increased so that longer trains can call, making it a suitable southern terminus during the full track layout change through the summer, bringing passengers closer to the city and reducing the length and journey time of replacement bus and coach journeys. Network Rail refer to the platform re-surfacing and coping stone repair as a temporary measure. GWR have said they would welcome the operational flexibility to stop longer trains at Bedminster permanently. By the end of August, engineers had already replaced over 1¼ miles of track, laid around 7,000
(Top) Bristol East Junction Raising the new Gantry The New Gantry in place (Bottom) Track laying at Bristol East Junction
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A GWR train under the station roof
(Top) Daytime track laying, (Centre) Nighttime tracklaying and (Bottom) tracklaying in the station
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tonnes of ballast, completed over 400 welds and realigned 200 yards of coping stones along the edge of Platform 13 to suit the new track alignment design on platforms 1, 3 and 5, thereby ensuring the safe and smooth running of the railway. It will make them accessible to any train, improving flexibility which is a key aim of the wider junction work taking place this summer. Earlier, over the weekend of 7-8 August, work continued to remove the old signalling gantry and upload the data on to the new signalling gantry, which was installed over the Christmas 2020. A substation and a relay room were demolished and replaced to accommodate foundations for this new five-track-span gantry beside Dings Park in St Phillips. This has been built to electrification clearance height in anticipation of the deferred electrification to Temple Meads. The main 20-tonne boom for the new signalling gantry was completed with the help of a track mounted Kirow crane and is a significant milestone for the project. The new gantry, which can be seen from platform 3 at Bristol Temple Meads, Attention now turns to the London side of the junction whereby engineers will repeat the similar process of digging out and replacing the old track and stone, focusing on the railway lines towards Bath Spa and London Paddington. As part of the upgrade of Bristol East Junction, an extra line is also being introduced which will support new suburban services in the future as part of the West of England Combined Authority’s (WECA) MetroWest scheme. Once complete, this
The Taziker team at the contract signing (Above) The safety platform and scaffolding towers (Below) The scaffolding towers
alongside the track upgrades this summer, making the most of the opportunity while train services are disrupted. This includes creating foundations for the new eastern entrance. Other station improvements include changes to cycle parking. A new, temporary bike park has been located on Friary, to the north of the station. It is covered, well-lit, monitored by CCTV and patrolled by British Transport Police. Housing just over 450 bicycles, it matches the previous storage capacity from platform 3 and 4.
Refurbishing the Roof
Work in progress on the lighting contract
scheme will provide over 4,000 additional seats on trains every day in the area. Attention now turns to the London side of the junction whereby engineers will repeat the similar process of digging out and replacing the old track and stone, focusing on the railway lines towards Bath Spa and London Paddington.
Temple Meads Station
Bristol Temple Meads is at the heart of future regeneration plans for the city and the wider region that will see it become a truly world-class transport hub. A programme of renovation is underway that, once complete, will bring a brighter welcome to the city and a better experience for all passengers. Network Rail is proud to be preserving Bristol’s oldest station for future generations. Additional work on the Bristol Temple Meads roof renovation and eastern entrance project will take place
Over the next couple of years, specialist teams will be repairing, painting and glazing the iconic roof, including the canopies on platforms and the station forecourt. The main train shed will be brought back to its former glory with a brand-new glass roof, and all the paintwork will be stripped back and refreshed, with a fresh protective coating in a new colour scheme. Network Rail’s plans have signed a contract with Taziker as primary contractor in a three-year refurbishment of the famous Victorian roof. The £24 million contract is good news for the local economy with around 75 full-time workers expected onsite at the peak of the project. Taziker has also committed to creating apprenticeships for local people; offering a unique opportunity to work alongside experts with experience on heritage landmarks including Brunel’s Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol and the Royal Albert Bridge in Plymouth. As well as refreshing the roof for a cleaner, brighter experience for passengers, work on the Grade I listed structure will protect it from further deterioration for future generations. It will involve extensive metal and woodwork repairs and the complete re-glazing of the roof and canopies. This is the first major refurbishment of the station roof in over 25 years, due for completion in 2023. Over the Christmas 2020 period, Taziker began its work to install scaffolding under the main train shed roof. Between Christmas Day and 11 January, 16 full scaffolding towers were erected, and an additional 24 sets of foundations were completed, which then became full height towers. In total, there were 60 full height scaffolding towers on Platforms 3, 4, 5 and 6, comprising fifty scaffolding
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The temporary bike storage area
towers and fifteen 120feet long roof beams over the platforms. Installing these towers formed a crucial part of preparations for the work ahead as they supported the huge safety screen which protects passengers and staff while renovations take place overhead, keeping the station in use. The work site was also fully wrapped to prevent dust and other materials from escaping into the station below. The new laminated glass panels will help to create a brighter environment for passengers at Bristol Temple Meads. This part of the project is expected to be completed sometime during 2023.
Rewiring and WiFi
Bristol Temple Meads railway station has received a £10.2m upgrade under which the station is being completely rewired, with new heating, cooling and ventilation systems also installed and an upgrade to the lighting. It is planned that the work will make the Grade I-listed station more energy efficient and "a brighter, greener environment". SSE Enterprise Contracting will be delivering the work and will use local labour, supply chains and businesses. Work on the rewire is set to start in October and expected to be completed in 2023, alongside the restoration of the Victorian main train shed roof and platform canopies. Network Rail said it had not yet awarded contracts for all of the elements of the upgrade and restoration works, but the cost of the rewire and roof restoration was around £60m. The project will improve the overall reliability and efficiency of the station’s electrics, and allow for potential future expansion of retail. Separate power supplies are being created and back-up systems improved. Heating, cooling and ventilation systems will also be replaced, and all lighting upgraded to energy efficient LEDs.
Investment in the Surrounding Area
As part of its wider regeneration programme, Bristol City Council is developing a sustainable urban quarter – Temple Quarter – as a place to live, work, study, enjoy leisure time and build on Bristol’s strengths as a world class city. Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, commented: “With Temple Meads station,
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The plan for the regeneration of the St Phillips area
the largest transport interchange in the region, at the core of Temple Quarter, the City’s regeneration of the wider area alongside the station is a once-in-ageneration opportunity. It will bring about the longawaited transformation of a key site in the heart of the city, creating 22,000 new jobs. The 70 Hectare development zone will deliver a new, mixed use, city quarter, including up to 11,000 new homes. There will also be an improved and revitalised transport interchange, and wider transport improvements across the Temple Quarter, leading to an economic boost of £1.6 billion per annum. The station is an important hub in the city’s transport network, especially for pedestrians and cyclists. Making improvements to Temple Meads station will feed into Bristol’s ambitions for cleaner air and carbon neutrality. A multidisciplinary consultancy team led by Mott MacDonald and including Weston Williamson + Partners architects, AWW Architects, Alan Baxter associates, GVA, Deloitte, Turley, TLT and Pragma, has been appointed to deliver a masterplan for the future of the Temple Quarter in Bristol, UK. The consultancy team has been appointed on behalf of a strategic alliance of Bristol City Council, Network Rail, Homes England and West of England Combined Authority. Mott MacDonald will provide multidisciplinary consultancy services including infrastructure masterplanning and railway and station enhancements, while Weston Williamson and Partners will lead architecture and masterplanning.
Major track upgrade completed at Bristol East Junction Network Rail has completed its major upgrade of Bristol East Junction, removing a bottleneck into Bristol Temple Meads and replacing the 1960s track and components. This will allow more trains to enter and exit the station, increase capacity, reduce congestion and help make journeys more reliable. The work was completed as planned on the evening of Friday 3rd September with all railway lines into and out of Bristol Temple Meads reopening and train services resuming normal operations on the following morning. This £132 million Department for Transportfunded project started on Saturday 10 July and over the past eight weeks Network Rail engineers have worked day and night using a total of 50 engineering trains to replace over 5km of track, install over 300 track panels and lay around 26,000 tonnes of ballast. An additional line has been introduced which paves the way to support new suburban services in the future as part of the West of England Combined Authority’s (WECA) MetroWest scheme. Once complete, this scheme will provide over 4,000 additional seats on trains every day in the area, making Bristol Temple Meads a key transport hub in the western region. Also as part of the upgrade, an old signalling gantry has been removed and a new gantry, installed over the Christmas period last year (2020), has been brought online. Follow up work to the remodelled junction will take place on Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 September affecting trains towards Bristol Parkway on the Saturday and towards Bath Spa on the
Sunday. The completion of this track upgrade work is part of the wider Bristol Rail Regeneration programme that will see a number of improvements to the iconic Bristol Temple Meads station over the next three years, representing a major investment in sustainable transport in the region and creating a major transport hub that will serve millions of passengers each year and support business right across the region. Mike Gallop, Network Rail’s Western route director, said: “I am delighted we have completed this important upgrade work which, now finished, will bring great benefits to passengers, particularly more trains, more seats and more reliable journeys. “This was a highly complex piece of engineering that has taken several years to plan and we would like to thank passengers and local residents for their patience and understanding over the past eight weeks while we have completed this work. “The upgrade of Bristol East Junction is just one aspect of our wider Bristol Rail Regeneration programme of work that is transforming the station and railway in Bristol for the benefit of passengers, the city and West of England region.” Richard Rowland, GWR customer service and operations director, said: “We are very grateful to our passengers who have shown great patience and understanding during this work to create an infrastructure fit for the future of our rail services.
“This work will help us deliver 4,000 more train seats a day into the city, on more services
through Bristol; starting with the introduction of half-hourly services on the Severn Beach line later this year.”
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The Brunel Institute
Brunel’s First Railway Journey? Tim Bryan
Director of the Brunel Institute at the SS Great Britain in Bristol Tim Bryan, describes an intriguing souvenir of I.K.Brunel’s first journey by Train. The first mention in Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s diary of what was to become the Great Western Railway appeared on 21st February 1833 as a marginal reference noted ‘B.R.’, initials that then referred to the ‘Bristol Railway’. Less than a month later, at the age of only 27, Brunel was appointed as engineer of a new railway between Bristol and London that would not only define his career but would also be one of the most significant railway developments of the Victorian era. On the face of it, Brunel would have seemed an unlikely candidate for the job given he had very little direct experience of railway engineering, and his appointment, given the size and importance of the project showed some considerable confidence on the part of the Bristol directors who chose him. Of course, in 1833 railway development was still in its infancy, and so the pool of engineers from which the new railway company might have drawn suitable candidates was necessarily not that large; Brunel biographer L.T.C Rolt noted that other candidates for the job were ‘not very formidable’. Brunel did however have the support of some influential Bristol men including Nicholas Roch, who introduced him to the committee set up to promote the railway, and its chairman Thomas Guppy, who would become a close friend and supporter of Isambard. One cannot however underestimate Brunel’s charisma and powers of persuasion, characteristics that would serve him well throughout his career; he was able to convince the committee that he would survey only one route rather than a number of different costed designs, saying he would design a railway that was the best not the cheapest. Having gained this concession, and undoubtedly confident he could do the job, he was however forced to accept the position on the understanding that a local surveyor W.H Townsend would assist him with the survey of the route. Despite his relative inexperience in railway engineering, a fascinating survival in the National Brunel Collection at the Brunel Institute of the SS Great Britain Trust reveals that some of his grand vision for railway travel had been formed almost two years before his appointment to the GWR job in 1833. In December 1831, Brunel had yet to truly make his mark and was still searching for the commission that would launch his career after his near-fatal accident at the Thames Tunnel, and the abandonment of that project.
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Brunel's personal notebook (undated). The engineer has written his distinctive signature noting that the Liverpool & Manchester carriage was 'going 25'. (By courtesy of the Brunel Institute – a collaboration of the SS Great Britain Trust and University of Bristol)
He travelled around the country extensively during this period and spent time in the north of England, meeting with the promotors of a project to build a new Dock at Monkwearmouth in late November 1831. Brunel’s tour then took him Liverpool Crown Street Station looking east, as seen on a LNWR postcard. Trains were worked by gravity to Edge Hill, so no locomotive is attached to the carriages in the departure platform on the left of picture. (Authors Collection)
on to the Stockton & Darlington Railway where he inspected a suspension bridge carrying the railway over the River Tees which he described as a ‘wretched thing’ and then on again to Hartlepool, Beverley and Hull. From Hull he crossed the Pennines to Manchester to undertake a journey on the Liverpool & Manchester Railway, which at that time had only been operation for just over a year. There are no previous mentions of railway travel in Brunel’s diaries, so it is likely that this was his first trip on a train. It seems however Brunel was not too impressed by the rough ride he took on a 2 hour 15 minute journey to Liverpool on 5th December 1831, writing in his notebook ‘I record this specimen of the shaking on the Manchester Railway - the time is not too far off when we shall be able to take our coffee and write while going, noiseless and smoothly
at 45 miles per hour – let me try’. He had also tried to draw circles to judge how smooth the ride was and, in the page shown here, he tried to write his signature twice at both top and bottom, along with the words ‘Shaky Shaky’! Within a few short years however, Brunel would be grappling with his own issues of rough track as teething troubles with his new broad gauge baulk road led to a battle with shareholders and critics, but for now, this intriguing souvenir of his first railway journey shows that his ambition to design a truly high-speed railway was already at the forefront of his fertile mind. For more information about the Brunel Institute and its collections please visit: https://www.ssgreatbritain.org/collections-andresearch/
Work Continues to Link the Metro Control Centre to the Rail Network Work to link the South Wales Metro Control Centre to the rail network begins next month ready for the arrival of the new £150m fleet of Metro tramtrains. The scheme includes raising the road bridge and creating a new tunnel to join the £100m control centre, maintenance facility and depot in Taff’s Well, Cardiff, to the rail network. Phase 1 will involve work to prepare the site for the new tunnel between 23 August and 10 December 2021. Pending planning approval, Phase 2 will involve the build of the new bridge between 10 December 2021 and Autumn 2022. This work will require the closure of Ffordd Bleddyn throughout the length of the work, between the junction off Cardiff Road and the entrance to Taff’s Well railway station car park. The pedestrian and cycle path (Taff Trail) along this section of Ffordd Bleddyn will also be closed from the 25th of October. Diversions will be in place for all routes. Karl Gilmore, TfW’s Rail Infrastructure Director, said: “We have a significant amount of work to carry out to create the South Wales Metro and this is a crucial phase of the development. “We understand this is a lengthy road closure, however this is unavoidable due to the complexity of the tunnel construction. We’re working closely with the local authorities to ensure disruption is kept to a minimum. “We will do everything we can to work responsibly by ensuring our sites are well managed and our people are considerate to our neighbours.” Taff’s Well railway station will remain open to the
The new control centre area
Ffordd Bleddyn tunnel
public throughout the work and will be accessible via an entrance from Moy Road/Ffordd Bleddyn from the north. There will also be work to install deep drainage to the area whilst the modification of Taff’s Well station car park is taking place. Members of the public with any questions should visit tfwrail.wales/contact-us or call 0333 3211 202.
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RAILWAY NEWS FROM AROUND THE PRESERVATION SCENE of Wales’ last mine in 2022, means Coal for Heritage Steam that, unless the UK, Scottish and The following article is based upon a report by Steve Oates, Chief Executive, HRA, which appeared in the August 2021 edition of HRA News and is reprinted with grateful acknowledgements to that organisation I’m often asked what the latest position is on coal, what we’re doing to challenge the Government, and have we thought of doing this or saying that! In all that the HRA has done on the subject we have increasingly liaised with other heritage users of coal and, although heritage railways are the largest users for steam, our approach is now to work with, and speak for,all sectors of heritage steam. Earlier in the year, many readers will have attended one of our preseason briefings, our Scottish Forum, or perhaps the STICK (Scottish Transport and Industry Collections Knowledge Network) conference. In each event I set out the current position on coal. The following summary is based on those presentations. Some Stats... 100 years ago, the UK consumed 192,000,000t of coal. Last year, it was 7,100,000t. In 2025, after closure of the remaining coal-fired power stations, UK consumption will be 5,000,000t or probably less. In 1913, just before WW1, some 1.2 million people were employed in mining in the UK and extraction was at its height with 292,000,000t extracted in that one year. 107 years later, in 2020, UK mining produced just 1,700,000t and, by 2025, it’ll be just 2,500t, largely from the Forest of Dean free miners. Heritage steam consumption remains steady at just 35,000t per year. For the past three years or so, problems relating to supply and our future use of coal have grown exponentially. Since 2018, the HRA has significantly ramped up its work on this and, for some time, we’ve been asking the UK Government for clarity on the future of coal for heritage steam.
The End of UK Mining
The initial response had been encouraging, with statements in both houses of parliament that the
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Government has no wish to see the end of heritage steam in the UK. However… • We have responded robustly to UK and Welsh government consultations on the mining, use and burning of coal, and on their Clean Air legislation. • We have met with ministers, their advisors and officers. • We have provided extensive briefings to MPs and other parliamentarians for debates and questions on coal in both the Commons and the Lords, and questions have been raised to both the Scottish and Welsh governments. • We and many individual railways have widely promoted the issue on radio and television, in national andregional press, online, on social media and in the steam magazines. • We’ve joined with others in highlighting the massive contradictions and differences in environmental impact between mining in the UK and importing fromthousands of miles away. • We’ve stated and restated the economic and social value of heritage steam – the jobs, the wellbeing, the social and community benefits, the asset values, the value to the nations’ cultural heritage, our charitable aims and our educational value. • The HRA gave extensive evidence to the study into the future of coal for heritage steam undertaken by the AllParty Parliamentary Group for Heritage Rail (APPG). • We’ve worked hard to help UK mining companies secure consent to continue mining in the UK, lobbying the UK and regional governments and giving evidence at a regional authority planning meeting. But the closure last year of Scotland’s and England’slast mines at Garlaffem in Ayr and Shotton near Newcastle, the Government’s blocking of the proposed Highthorn surface mine in Northumberland, the refusal of permission for the Dewley Hill surface mine near Newcastle, the proposed end of mining in Wales under the Welsh Governments’ new coal policy, and the now virtually inevitable closure
Welsh governments change tack, mining of bituminous coal in the UK will end.
But what about still burning coal?
During the course of the APPG enquiry, DEFRA ministersdid confirm that the ban on domestic coal burning in England would not cover the heritage sector. That commitment was also confirmed by the then DCMS minister Lord Ashton in a debate initiated by HRA President Lord Faulkner in June 2019. Lord Ashton stated: “Obviously, we appreciate the need to reduce public health risks, but we are working carefully to consider how we might achieve a successful balance between enhancing environmental and public health protection and ensuring that the UK’s heritage vehicle industry - and, indeed, heritage houses that burn coal in grates - continues to thrive.” “We fully recognise the enormous benefits that heritage railways bring to the UK’s economy and tourism industry. The proposals in the consultation on domestic burning would not prevent heritage railways purchasing the fuels they need.” That was probably the most supportive ministerial statement that our sector has received in recent years, and it gave us a lot of encouragement. Unfortunately, that didn’t continue and when Lord Faulkner asked an oral question on 21 January this year, the DEFRA minister, Lord Gardiner, said: “The legislation, which will come into force from May 2021, will end the sale of bituminous coal to households in England and lead to significant health benefits. While we acknowledge the indirect impact that this may have on the supply of coal to businesses, it is vital that the Government and the sector continue to work together to transition to cleaner alternatives.” And, just for good measure two further recent Welsh Govt consultations may impact on the future use of coal there. So, a combination of new clean air acts and the closure of all mines producing bituminous coal – as well as a ban on any new mines – has left us facing the prospect that steam railways could, ultimately, be driven out of business, heritage fairs and road steam events would
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no longer be able to operate, and the UK’s lastcoal operated steamboat and iconic main line steam locomotives such as Flying Scotsman and Tornado, would become museum pieces. We now conclude that, unless there is a significant change of policy, UK mined coal will no longer be available after 2022 and the environmental issues surrounding the burning of fossil fuels is an ever expanding threat.
Economic Value of Heritage Steam
The UK’s 160 steam railways and the heritage road steam, maritime steam, and heritage industrial steam sectors attract millions of visitors each year, employ over 4,000 people, and engage some 30,000 volunteers. Asset values extend to hundreds of millions and, combined, the positive economic impact of heritage steam to the nation’s economy runs to well in excessof £1 billion. Additionally, the national and international PR value to the nation of ‘Flying Scotsman’, ‘the Hogwarts Express’ and other film and TV icons is virtually incalculable. All are at risk without coal. Heritage steam has two simple needs. We need a sustainable, robust and affordable supply of high-quality bituminous coal to run and provide these much loved, iconic and educational assets for the publicto learn from and enjoy… And to minimise the threat to jobs and the long-term sustainability of heritage steam, we have been saying for some time that we must work together, we must think differently, and we must seek external – government – support.
Engaging with Government
Engaging with Government on the problems faced by heritage railways is extraordinarily difficult. Responsibilities are split between Westminster and the Northern Ireland, Scottish and Welsh Governments, and within the UK Parliament between DEFRA, DCMS, Transport and BEIS. However, in May we were able to engage with Lord ‘Zac’ Goldsmith who is steering the Government’s new Environment Bill through the Lords… In answer to a question from HRA President Lord Faulkner he said:“The noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, mentioned heritage rail.I enjoyed a passionate conversation
with him recently, and he really made the case for the exemption. The Government are very confident, as am I, that heritage railways will continue to operate, because although our electricity systems will no longer rely on coal, it can still be used by a range of industries that need it. The decision on where to source coal is, obviously, a matter not for the Government but for the companies involved”. Technically speaking, we are not seeking an ‘exemption’, but simply an absolute assurance that the ban on domestic coal-burning will not apply to heritage steam operations and our preference would be to have that on the face of the Bill. Therefore, to strengthen heritage steam’s position, Lord Faulkner tabled an amendment to the draft Environment Bill which, if it were passed, would make the Act notapplicable to smoke emissions from heritage vehicles or historic buildings. The amendment – Amendment 279 – was debated during the Bills’ committee stage in early July and received wide support. Following this positive outcome, just before the summer recess Lord Faulkner tabled a further, straightforward, amendment - signed by the same peers who put their names to the one considered in committee - which is intended to stop local authorities from using bylaws or other Clean Air Act provisions to prohibit the burning of coal for heritage steam purposes. He has also re-tabled the original amendment (Amendment 279) with the intention that it, and the new amendment are considered together at the Environment Bill’s Report stage. That will give the opportunity for the widest possible debate, with the expectation that at the very least we shall get cast iron ministerial undertakings on the record.
Where will our coal come from?
For 2021 there’s coal… and plenty of it. And this is likely to run well into 2022. Not much bituminous lump coal was used during 2020 so remaining stocks from Garlaffem, Shotton, Bradley and elsewhere are still being used up, plus there’s still coal coming out of Fos-y-fran in South Wales and there are a few imports coming in. However, prices have gone up and there is a problem for users of smaller quantities as bagged coal
under 25kg were banned from May.
But what of 2023 and beyond? - Imports
Individual heritage railways and other heritage users will need to transition from buying coal from UK producers to buying stock on the World market and importing those supplies from overseas. The current annual spend by the heritage steam sector is estimated to be in the region of £7 million, so for some months there has been a good deal of behind-the-scenes research and collaboration going on tofind high quality coal which can be imported on a consistent basis. A new import partner – Hatfields - has been identified. They’re experienced in the aggregates and minerals market, and a couple of sources of high-quality Russian coal suitable for heritage locomotives have been sourced. Five UK heritage railways successfully trialled an initial consignment of this coal with positive reports on the burn quality and economy of the coal. Importantly, Hatfields are prepared to work with heritage steam on an open-book basis so we all know the cost, charges and margins being made. But we do need to be aware that securing future supplies will be subject to the World market and Global demand changes rapidly. Ideally, heritage steam must get to a situation where we can collectively order an annual supply of 35,000t – normally in 5,000 to 10,000t loads. The first 5,000t consignment has already come in and is being used by a number of railways. Thus, although it’s still early days, we know that imports of the right quality are available and Hatfields are happy – indeed, keen – towork with heritage steam. And on the subject of bagging smaller loads, they’re talking through how to solve that for the road steam market.
So, we believe we can source sufficient high-quality coal on an ongoing basis and we know and have impressed on others our economic value to the visitor economy. But what about our environmental value? We have been emphasising for some years that heritage railways must take their environmental responsibilities very seriously and mitigate emissions
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and other environmental impacts. The easy bit is that we know many heritage railways operate in ‘green corridors’ with the tracksides of many lines identified as SSSIs. However, we are all subject to the growing climate concerns and, while we all know that coal is a highly efficient fuel, many children and young people have grown up without coal, blissfully unaware of its massive role as the fuel that drove the industrialisation and economic growth not only of this country, but of the World. In 5 or 10 years time most, if not all, children and young adults will never have seen coal, let alone understood its use in powering the World… And perhaps their only ‘knowledge’ of it will be the viewpoint that it contributed to global warming! So where does this leave us? We still want – need – to use coal. We know our environmental impact is minuscule. We know we’re a significant and successful economic driver. We know the iconic status of ‘Thomas’, the Hogwarts Express and Flying Scotsman. We know we are custodians of much of Britain’s rich transport and industrial heritage. There’s the youth angle. Greta Thumberg: “You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money, and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!” …And in May, eight teenagers in Australia led a class action against their government to prevent a coal mine extension that could make it more difficult for coal mines to be approved in Australia on the basis of intergenerational equity and climate change. Then there’s the wider environmental picture and this stark statistic: “When David Attenborough began his wildlife programme-making in 1954, the world’s population was 2.7 billion. Today it is more than 7.7 billionand will rise by another billion in the next 15 years.” And as we come out of Covid-19, there’s the UN Climate Conference in Glasgow this November with moves to end global coal extraction and the challenge of increasingly well-organised protest groups: “Do not expect the view of our movement to be the same postpandemic… The environment and climate change activities will be
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stronger.” We may soon get to the stage where we can no longer base our arguments on being only 0.02% of UK emissions… And what value are our economic arguments when there are all the emotions wrappedup in the environmental concerns? As a basic minimum, and I’ve been stating this for three years now, we must get our PR right, we must introduce new strategies across our businesses to counter the environmental impact of burning coal, and together - as heritage steam and all users of heritage fuels – we must influence governments.
What about alternatives?
Currently the leading alternatives being researched are based on torrefied biomass. Yes, I know many are sceptical about this but there is realistic development underway and supporting the development of alternatives may well pay dividends in our ongoing wider discussions with government, environmentalists and others. It is still early days but there are a few forms of alternative coal being developed, tackling the challenge of producing something from waste vegetation material and compressing and binding it into a product which stores well and is of comparable size, weight and burn quality of coal, and doesn’t just blast up the chimney when full steam draught is applied. Coal Products Ltd have recently trialled Ecoal on the Bure Valley Railway in Norfolk. Using a 15inch gauge locomotive hauling a 50-tonne train, Ecoal, which is made up of 50% coal dust and 50% olive husks performed well. But whether it will work with larger trains remains to be seen. Meanwhile N&P from Holland are developing Subcoal which is also due to be trialled. Perhaps the most promising is Biocoal, being developed at the University of Minnesota in conjunction with the Coalition for Sustainable Rail. This is still at the R&D stage and trails have been held up by Covid, but their trials so far suggest that biocoal may be suitable for use with 15-inch gauge and narrow-gauge locomotives. And there have been some trials with a larger US standard gauge locomotive which ran well. But there is still much R&D work to do before any move to scale-
up production and manufacture at scale to produce supplies in sufficient quantities. Assuming development is successful, this is estimated to be at least five to eight years away.
So, where does this leave us?
Going forward, our aim is to ensure that the coal we put into our historic and valuable locomotives is the best quality coal we can find. We believe such coal will be available. But between us, heritage steam and users of other heritage fuels such as the classic and vintage vehicle sector, need new thinking. It’s now about environmental and educational issues, and we must influence governments to ensure we can continue to use our heritage fuels for the long term. We’ve work to do to get in front of the Welsh and Scottish governments and, as indicated above, with the Environment Bill working its way through Parliament we’re working with the Steamboat Association and the Heritage Fuels Alliance to keep heritage steam’s voice heard in the UK Parliament.
Obligation… Opportunity… Duty...
I’d contend that heritage steam now, more than ever, has an obligation, an opportunity and a duty. Our obligation is to proactively do all we can to minimise our impact and to be environmentally sustainable, while still being an economic force and maximising the wellbeing and community benefits we offer. Our opportunity is to use our heritage and educational status to explain and demonstrate the use of coal and its place in the World. To become accredited museums andto use coal – even if heritage steam is its only use in the UK – to educate and enable future generations to learn and to ‘experience’ what coal achieved… and to see first-hand why it’s no longer in widespread use! Taking this further, as educational charities could we secure our use of coal for charitableeducational purposes? And our duty is to actively investigate sustainable alternatives. To join with others in research and development, taking forward work already underway and seek new possibilities. And bearing in mind biocoal is based on vegetation and plant matter waste – who knows, we might be growing our own coal!!
Public Transport on Heritage Railways A report by the All-Party Group on Heritage Rail, July 2021 Foreword
On May 14 this year, we celebrated the 70th anniversary of the first train run by volunteers on a preserved railway, the Talyllyn. Its passengers were no longer workers in the slate quarries, but hikers and others in search of the beauty and tranquillity of this part of Wales. Today, heritage railways are predominantly part of the tourism sector and essential to support the local hospitality industry, providing skilled jobs and training in the rural economy and a worthwhile and rewarding activity for many thousands of volunteers with the wellbeing benefits that this brings. The Talyllyn is one of the 12 Great Little Trains of Wales, of which I am fortunate to have seven in my constituency of Dwyfor Meirionnydd, so I am keen to protect the value they bring. However, they are also a heritage means of transport and as the first steam locomotive in the World ran in Wales, and railways were Britain’s gift to the World, I welcome the opportunity in this study to consider what public transport role heritage railways could play today. I am grateful for the contributions made by a number of heritage railways, by the rail industry, the regulator and the Minister, and the quality of evidence put to us, which has helped guide our conclusions. My thanks also go to our Secretary, Chris Austin who arranged the evidence sessions, researched the issues raised and drafted the report The areas of potential development that we have identified are largely around sustainable tourism, and focus inevitably on those railways that already have a main line connection or interchange station. There would seem to be many opportunities to replace car journeys to visit heritage railways and to link the rural areas they serve with those on the national network. We would endorse our findings to the future Great British Railways organisation when it is established, as well as to Scottish and Welsh Government and the five Whitehall departments whose policies are supported or enhanced by the contributions made by heritage railways. The opportunities for business and commuter travel on heritage lines are fewer, but where the opportunities exist, we applaud the work of those railways that are seeking to develop them. In an uncertain world, the existence of a rail link is potentially an economic bonus and we endorse the need to protect former railway routes where there is a realistic possibility of linking heritage railways again with the national network. Rt Hon Liz Saville Roberts MP, Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Heritage Rail Executive Summary Heritage railways are a well established part of the
Glorious Devon: a train from Bristol approaching Kingswear (for Dartmouth) with a locomotive equipped to run on the national network. This summer Sunday service has been running for many years (Dartmouth Steam Railway)
tourism sector, and the original concept of a steam train ride has now become a full day of interest and activity, engaging with a new generation of younger visitors who never experienced steam on the main line. They also provide worthwhile volunteering opportunities with health and wellbeing benefits for 22,000 volunteers as well as the 13 million visitors they attract each year. This report sets out to see how far they can also provide public transport in addition to this important tourist role. Standard gauge heritage railways run on the route of a railway that once formed part of the British Rail network and so it is understandable that questions are asked about the possibility of restoring a public transport service as well as providing a train ride for tourists. In some cases, only a section of the former line has been preserved, so the railway simply runs between remote rural stations for which conventional passenger demand
List of Members taking part in Study Rt Hon Liz Saville Roberts MP (Chair) Martin Vickers MP Simon Baynes MP James Daly MP Martyn Day MP Tan Dhesi MP Peter Gibson MP Robert Goodwill MP Kevin Hollinrake MP Chris Loder MP Karl McCartney MP Julian Sturdy MP Bob Seely MP Craig Williams MP Hywel Williams MP Lord Berkeley Lord Davies of Brixton Earl of Devon Lord Faulkner of Worcester Lord Grocott of Telford Baroness Morgan of Cotes Baroness Scott of Needham Market Lord Shutt of Greetland* Lord Snape of Wednesbury Secretary: Chris Austin (* Sadly, Lord Shutt died on 30 October 2020, but had contributed extensively to the study before this and his wise counsel and strong interest in its work were much appreciated.)
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would be low. In other cases, though, heritage railways serve major communities off the national network and a list of these is given in Annex Three, along with the populations served. The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Heritage Rail has considered both the feasibility and the business case for providing a public transport service on heritage railways in the context of the Government’s ‘Restoring your Railway’ initiative, and this report is designed to assist the continuing studies into the opportunities around Great Britain to reconnect communities to the national rail network. The principal conclusions of the study are: Scope: 1. Of the 156 heritage railways in the United Kingdom, 32 heritage lines are connected to the national network or have a reasonable interchange with it. 19 lines serve major tourist areas such as National Parks and are linked with the national network and 11 towns with a population of over 10,000 are on heritage railway lines connected to the national network. 2. From the evidence of the railways themselves, a number saw scope for providing ‘public tourist transport,’ leisure-based travel which people would enjoy both as an experience and as a way of accessing tourist destinations without using the car. 3. Our general conclusion from the study is that the main scope for future growth remains in tourism for the majority of heritage railways. 4. Heritage railways are alive to the opportunities offered by through running or good interchange with the main line network, but not all will be able to participate. Commercial 5. The business models of heritage railways and the national railway are quite different, and expanding existing services brings additional costs and responsibilities which may be beyond the resources and capability of the heritage railway to manage. 6) The new markets so far developed by through services have been tourist based, rather than providing an all-day, year round rail service for general travel needs. Post pandemic, both heritage and national railways see leisure travel as likely to grow strongly, so have a shared interest in cooperating to make this work as effectively as possible. 7) A major issue is the relatively high fares on heritage railways, geared to the price of other tourist attractions in the area, rather than to bus fares or to local fares on nearby national rail lines, which are significantly lower. 8) We found no evidence of major hindrances that would prevent heritage railways providing a public service as a matter of principle, but it was clear that there would not be a business case to do so for every heritage line. Opportunities could be quite limited as described below. In some cases the railways felt that an additional public transport requirement could be inimical to their interests as a tourist attraction.
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Funding: 9) To overcome this, where the benefits to potential passengers would be significant, financial support will generally be needed from Government, and a mechanism for this together with a method of ensuring value for money would be needed in cases where additional and non-commercial services are requested by Government for public policy reasons. 10) In procuring, marketing and promoting services as well as on through ticketing, a national train operator might act as a ‘foster TOC1’ to its associated heritage railway to provide the logistical support to bridge the gap between the locally focussed heritage railway and the more disciplined administrative requirements of the national system. 11) Financial support could alternatively come from the local authority or sub- national transport body rather than from central Government, where services are provided for a specific purpose, such as school trains or to support a specific local economic activity. Operational: 12) Evidence from the Office of Rail and Road made clear that the approach will be to examine each case on its merits and based on the assessment of risks and their mitigation in each particular case. 13) It is easier to run modern rolling stock on to a heritage railway than to run historic rolling stock onto the national network. 14) The costs of running the national network are an order of magnitude different from those of running a heritage line. Above 25 mph a number of additional safety requirements would be required which would increase costs considerably. 15) The views of volunteers and the circumstances of each railway need to be carefully considered, as changes of this magnitude may go well beyond the reasons that volunteers are prepared to offer their time and help, particularly as directors and trustees. 16) The rapid change from conventional railway signalling to the digital railway means an evercloser relationship between track and train. It will continue to require innovative solutions to providing the on-train equipment in the difficult environment of a steam locomotive cab to deal with instructions received from lineside equipment and cab signalling on the national network. Public Policy Issues: 17) The Group welcomed the ‘Restoring your Railway’ initiative as a positive step forward and were pleased to contribute to it by this thoughtful analysis of the role that heritage railways might play. 18) Public tourist transport has a particular role to play in providing car-free access to national parks and other sensitive areas such as seaside towns unable to cope with a huge influx of cars. 19) The heritage ‘offer’ should not be compromised as it forms the raison d’être for most heritage railways and they in turn support many other tourist businesses in their area. 1 Train Operating Company
1. An examination of the scope for heritage railways to offer a public transport service as well as a heritage experience as part of the tourism sector. 2. The study will consider issues that restrict or prevent heritage railways providing a wider public transport service, identifying how these might be overcome. 3. Both cases of heritage railways running on to Network Rail tracks and national rail operators running on to heritage lines would be considered. The study seeks to identify types of line that might be able to provide a public service with appropriate funding and to identify the benefits that might accrue to the local economy or in terms of mode shift from car, with practical examples where possible. Methodology The approach was to take evidence from a selection of heritage railways themselves, and in particular those that have some experience of operating through services to and from the national network. In addition, the views of the Heritage Railway Association were considered as well as those of the Rail Minister, a major national rail operator with many heritage railway links, and of the Office of Rail and Road (Her Majesty’s Railway Inspectorate.) Advice was also sought from the Rail Delivery Group. Members considered the emerging evidence and contributed their views prior to preparation of the report. Evidence The Group took oral evidence from ten witnesses and benefitted from written evidence from two railways, and advice from HRA and the Rail Delivery Group. The full list is set out in Annex One. The Group was struck by the positive approach and attitude from all those participating, and supported the view of the Minister that Restoring your Railway was arguably the most popular railway policy ever. The Chair of Network Rail, Sir Peter Hendy caught the mood nicely when he quoted the words of Sir Peter Parker, a former British Rail chairman, saying of railway heritage that “Steam warmed the market for railways generally,…”2 Sir Peter Hendy was also clear that the prime purpose of a railway (national or heritage) was to drive economic growth. The Chief Inspector of Railways, Ian Prosser, made clear that ORR’s approach was “never say never,” but one of proportionality and risk management, identifying risks and removing or mitigating them. Those railways that had achieved operation of through trains to and from the national network had shown considerable tenacity and commitment in overcoming all the obstacles that arose from such a new approach.
2 Sir Peter Parker, For Starters, Pan Books 1989
Approaching the level crossing linking the North Norfolk Railway with Network Rail at Sheringham in 2010 (M&GN Joint Railway Society)
Background When the railway preservation movement started in the 1950s and 1960s the main objective was to provide a public transport service, similar to that run by BR, but operated by volunteers. In practice though, no railway could sustain such a level of service throughout the year. The Dart Valley Railway took over the line between Paignton and Kingswear (for Dartmouth) as a going concern from BR in 1972, but after the 1972/73 winter season moved to a seasonal operation and has been very successful ever since in moving large numbers of tourists in and out of these sensitive riverside towns and reducing the level of cars on the narrow Devon lanes in summer, but a regular winter service proved unaffordable. Initially, services attracted railway enthusiasts, but very quickly families were attracted to a train ride as the basis of a day out. As the railways extended and started to provide a wider range of attractions, including museums, catering and links to neighbouring tourist venues, they became an important part of the local tourist offer. From the 1970s onwards it was evident that the future of heritage railways as commercial companies running without public support lay in tourism rather than in public transport. In 2013, the Group reported on the value of heritage railways and their contribution to the local economy in terms of tourism, employment, skills training and apprenticeships, as well as through local purchasing of supplies. We also considered the potential opportunities for the railways to fulfil a greater potential through providing ‘public tourist transport.’ This covered more than just a train ride, including the role of these railways in providing access to national parks or areas of outstanding natural beauty in a sustainable way, particularly for walkers and cyclists. This report goes beyond that and considers more widely the scope for public transport services on heritage railways. Since the Beeching closures of the 1960s the demographics of Britain and the use of the railways
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North Yorkshire Moors Railway train from Whitby leaving Network Rail and running on to the heritage line at Grosmont
has changed dramatically. Overall passenger kilometres travelled by all modes have tripled while rail travel has doubled. This growth was brought to a sudden halt on 23 March 2020 by the travel restrictions and the effects of lockdown as a result of the Covid pandemic. More recently, travel has resumed at a lower level, but it is clear that the demand for both commuting and business travel will not return to former patterns or continue the growth that they had displayed over the 20 previous years. Leisure travel, however, is widely expected within the rail sector to be likely to return to former levels and to continue to grow. This may be partly due to the changing patterns of work and leisure which may provide new leisure opportunities, or it may reflect the growth in ‘staycations’ rather than the previously insatiable demand for overseas holidays. It will also depend on the economy and the availability of disposable income to spend on leisure pursuits including travel. All of this suggests a joint opportunity for the national rail network and heritage railways where the synergy of the two sectors working together is likely to produce greater growth than if they worked in isolation. Most visitors to heritage railways come by car, with a significant minority coming by coach. A number of factors combine to mean that heritage railways want to encourage visitors by public transport. Increasingly, environmental concerns mean that railways wish to see more people visit Size and Scope of Heritage Railways (2016 figures from HRA) • • • • • • •
156 heritage railways in the UK and Ireland 562 track miles 420 stations 13m visitors, 9.6m passengers carried (18.6m passenger journeys) 2,867 paid staff 21,659 volunteers 1.3m passenger train miles run
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using a sustainable means of transport. More cars mean a requirement for more car parking and laying tarmac on more land, which is now less acceptable in environmental terms, but also means the land is sterilised by parked cars rather than being used for more remunerative activities, such as retail, catering or for expanding rail facilities (all heritage railways need more land for their activities). Railways can also provide transport to sensitive areas such as National Parks where the influx of cars threatens to damage the countryside or villages that visitors have come to see. Some railways already provide an opportunity for car-free access to these areas, but with connections to the national network, a much wider catchment can be served and more cars kept off the road. Annex Two lists 19 railways that serve major tourist attractions and are linked to the national network with a further two where extensions of the heritage railway are proposed to create that link. There are 11 towns with a population in excess of 10,000 people which are served by stations on heritage railways that are linked to the national network, and a further two are proposed. These lines are listed in Annex Three. This is not to suggest that all can simply be enhanced to provide a full public transport service, but rather to indicate the numbers of people whose access to the national network by train might be improved, along with many other sizeable towns just under the 10,000 mark. They mark out a potential for expanded services which might justify future consideration. Links to the National Network Of the 156 railways, 32 are connected to or provide interchange with the national network (see Table One below), while the remainder are physically separate, although there are currently plans for a further six to be linked in future. 20 heritage railways have a track link with the national network currently, and three more have plans to do so. 26 have reasonable interchange with a national rail station and a further six have plans to provide an interchange in the future. The table below lists heritage lines (excluding museum sites and miniature railways) with existing or planned links to Network Rail over the next five years.
Issues Identified in the Study
Physical constraints: Standard gauge3 heritage railways are mostly those that previously formed part of the British Rail network so, in theory are capable of reconnection. However, some remain isolated because the trackbed that formerly linked them to the national network has been built on, or because the section of line preserved line serves no strong social or commercial objective (other than a steam train ride). All heritage railways are vertically integrated and 3 1435mm (4’8½”)
Table One – Links between heritage and national networks
Linked Running Siding Interchange Plans to to NR line connection station link to NR with connection to NR scheduled to NR but no through regular trains # passenger services
Plans for Interchange station
England 4 14 4 19 2 5 Wales nil nil nil 6 nil nil Scotland nil 1 1 1 1 1 Total GB 4 15 5 26 3 6 Notes: Total numbers in each category are given, so that if a railway has both a connecting line and an interchange station, it is shown under both headings. The total number of railways with a track connection or an interchange station is 32 (with a further six planned). # pre-covid. manage both infrastructure and operations, unlike the national network where these functions are split between Network Rail and train operator, although some of these functions are to be coordinated under Great British Railways. Running through trains to the national network would require careful consideration of the availability of train paths on the main line, and the space at junction stations to accommodate the extra trains. Most of the passenger network is busier now than in the 1960s and capacity is tailored to the level of service provided. Speed limit: Generally there is a speed restriction of 25 mph in force on heritage lines, deriving from the requirements of the Light Railway orders when they were established, and reflected in current definitions of heritage railways in the secondary legislation made under the Railways Act, 1993 and subsequent railway legislation. Some derogation has been given on speed limits, for example to the Great Central Railway in relation to testing rolling stock for main line operators or manufacturers up to 60 mph. The 25 mph speed limit also provides the heritage railway with exemption from the Railway Safety Regulations, 1999, which require the provision of a train protection system, and the phasing out of mark I rolling stock, unless modified to prevent vehicles over-riding each other in the event of a collision, and provision of door locking of vehicles with slam doors. Exemption is also given from European train driver licence regulations. Capacity: Many of the lines where there might be scope to expand to provide a more frequent public transport service are already at capacity in the summer peak period. Apart from a 5.25 mile section of double track on the Great Central Railway, all heritage railways are single track, with capacity constraints on expanding services. Expanded services would, in many cases require additional crossing loops or 4 Wholly volunteer railways and the law, ORR, June 2021
sections of double track at a cost that would not be met by the additional income generated, so a grant would be needed to enable such work to take place. Regulation: Following the Railways Act, 1993, which set out the framework for the privatisation of British Rail, both rail networks and train operators have required licences to operate, issued by ORR. Heritage railways that were then in existence were granted a block exemption from the licensing requirement. Their rights and duties are generally set out in the terms of the Light Railway Orders that were made when they were purchased from British Rail. The Light Railways Act has now been repealed, and replaced by an order making procedure under the Transport & Works Act, 1992. Safety: Whilst the safety framework has some differences between national and heritage rail lines, the approach to safety management is the same, requiring train and network operators to have in place a safety management system which identifies in detail the way in which safety is managed and in particular assesses risks and says how they will be mitigated or managed. Safety management on heritage railways is overseen by ORR railway inspectors and the normal accident and incident reporting system (RIDDOR) applies to both. Safety requirements and the approach to safety management are defined in both the Health & Safety at Work Act, 1974 and the Railway & Other Guided Transport Systems (Safety) Regulations, 2006. Guidance from ORR issued in June 20214 makes clear that these requirements also apply, even if the railway is wholly run by volunteers and so has no employees. In practice most heritage railways make no distinction between volunteer and paid staff and apply their rules and safety requirements to both. Specific requirements for the operation of heritage rolling stock on the national network are: • Fitting train protection and warning system on locomotives or multiple units • Provision of national train radio and on train monitoring recorders to driving cabs
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• • •
Controlled locking of slam door carriages Fitting retention tanks to toilets on passenger carriages Fitting restraints to prevent passengers leaning out of windows. The Chief Inspector of Railways indicated that risks relating to through running were principally to do with the age of the rolling stock, the state of the infrastructure and the competence of people operating and maintaining both. Contractual relationships between the operators needed to be very clear. The Risk Management Maturity Model has been produced by ORR to help railways identify their current status in terms of safety management and to improve steadily from ‘ad hoc’ to ‘excellent’ in the way they approach managing safety. The same principles apply to the planning of through service running or extensions of existing lines or services. Costs: Generally costs are significantly higher on the national network than on heritage railways, partly as a result of the volunteer input and of lower overheads, and partly as a result of a simpler method of operation on heritage lines. In his estimation, the general manager of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway told us that costs had increased by 30% as a result of extending the service to Whitby and another 30 staff had been employed. Insurance, for example is undertaken in line with the size and complexity of the company, but NYMR told us that as a licensed operator on the national network, their minimum cover rose to insure against liabilities of £155m, well above the norm for heritage railways. Connection costs to the main line network vary between railways, but the Swanage Railway gave evidence that they were charged £16,000 for their main line connection at Worgret Junction. This may become an issue as connections need to be renewed or resignalling costs are increased by the need to provide a connection.NYMR pays £40,000pa for access to the 6.5 mile section of line between Grosmont and Whiby and £60,000 is paid to Northern for shared use of Whitby station. Benefits: The benefits to visitors of the existing through running and interchange arrangements are clear and where a more comprehensive service of passenger services can be offered, the benefits to passengers could also be significant. Closer working might also lead to other forms of cooperation such as staff training and contracts for train cleaning, for example, or station management which might benefit both. We noted in our 2018 report on Young People and Heritage Railways, the role of heritage railways in encouraging young volunteers and as a recruiting ground for the national network. This is a virtuous circle capable of development. For the Isle of Wight Steam Railway, another example of potential cooperation was given. A
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connection between the two lines at Smallbrook Junction near Ryde, would enable shared use of ontrack maintenance machines, which for Island Line currently have to be brought over from the mainland by car ferry on each occasion. On the West Somerset Railway, an agreement with Network Rail provides access to a rail triangle to turn the huge High Output Ballast Cleaning train near their Taunton depot, and a means of processing spent ballast to allow it to be re-used as aggregate instead of going to landfill. In previous years, the railway carried 100,000t of rock armour for Minehead’s coastal defences, saving around 5,000 lorry movements. On the Dartmouth Steam railway, coal for the paddle steamer Kingswear Castle is delivered by rail to Kingswear, avoiding HGVs in an environmentally sensitive area. The Royal Scotsman and other excursions run onto the Strathspey Railway at Aviemore, and several other heritage railways see periodic through trains from the national network bringing hundreds of visitors and their spending power to the areas served.
Business Models: Heritage railways run a seasonal service, typically between 180 and 240 days a year and their hours of operation are tailored to the needs of tourists, typically between 10.00 a n d 17.00hrs. They charge high fares reflecting the costs of steam operation and the need to meet the substantial maintenance and renewal costs of heritage equipment. They are dependent on volunteers and some are almost exclusively run with unpaid staff whose contribution is huge, but who are generally prepared to work only the socially acceptable hours during which the trains run. Traditional methods of operation mean that staffing levels on trains and at stations are high. Heritage lines run without subsidy, and have to supplement fares income with profits from retail and catering activities to meet their costs. Most depend heavily on donations and legacies to meet the cost of projects or infrastructure renewal. National Train Operators run a regular service on 364 days of the year, usually (for local services) between the hours of 06.00 and 23.00. They use paid staff and through automation and efficiencies run with few staff and most stations unstaffed. They require subsidy to operate and their fare levels are relatively low, with many local services as cheap as the bus. There is no doubt that if heritage railways were to provide an enhanced public transport service, over and above that for which tourists are prepared to pay, then a subsidy would be required, particularly if lower fares were to be charged. However, the minister indicated that 83
further powers might be needed to enable such payments, and this needs to be established or clarified in the forthcoming Railways Bill in the 2022-23 parliamentary session, to enable the establishment of Great British Railways. Management: The other main issue is that heritage railways are largely dependent on volunteers and this includes their management, including trustees and directors who shoulder a heavy responsibility under current legislation without remuneration or acknowledgement of the value of the work they are doing. The Heritage Railway Association helps and supports the management of these railways through its training seminars and its hierarchy of guidance notes and formal advice. With this and a lot of hard work, management of these railways is fit for purpose for the services they provide. However, few have the capability to take on the more demanding role of providing a wider range of public transport services and the disciplines of running through to the national network without expanding the management function and providing training and almost certainly, with the extended responsibilities and greater time involved, there would be a need to pay people to undertake these additional responsibilities. Those railways that have developed closer working with the national network and even running through trains have all depended on the passion and commitment of one person or a small group, on both sides to overcome the many hurdles and see projects through to completion, dealing with many unforeseen obstacles on the way. A good project manager or project team is going to be required to take schemes forward. Fares and Ticketing
Fares on heritage railways are high, reflecting the higher cost of steam traction and the use of heritage equipment, and the fact that the railways are seasonal and need to earn enough during the busy summer months to allow them to survive during the winter when high costs are involved in infrastructure renewal and rolling stock overhaul, at a time when little or no income is being earned. Heritage railways do not normally receive any grant from central or local government. In his evidence, the NYMR general manager estimated that his railway required a fare level of around six times the level on national rail services to cover the costs of operating it. This high level of fare is designed for a day out with the heritage experience, and would deter passengers who want simply to travel. Similarly, those who are seeking the heritage experience and
then are offered a trip on modern rolling stock will feel short changed. Differential pricing according to time of day (or by train) might be possible, but would result in a complicated fares structure. A third problem arises from the distance taper on long distance fares. Whilst fares are market priced, rather than charged on a mileage tariff, in practice the rate per mile drops with distance, so that the amount left for the connecting heritage railway after the allocation for the trunk journey with the TOC has been made is too small to cover the costs on the heritage railway leg of the journey. There are no easy answers to these problems but in principle it is going to be preferable to price the heritage railway journey as an add-on, in the same way as a connecting ferry or bus service would be charged, to ensure that adequate payment was made for this leg of the journey. Discounts could be made available through the mechanism of a railcard, in the same way that many heritage railways offer local residents reduced fares compared with visitors from further afield. Where the journey over the national network is effectively an open access operation, as is the case with the North Yorkshire Moors Railway service between Grosmont and Whitby, then the operator can provide through tickets at a commercial price, although this will mean that fares will be different between operators over the same section of route. The same is true of the Jacobite steam train experience running over the national network between Fort William and Mallaig. In other cases, it would be possible to have two different pricing structures depending on whether travel is by heritage (steam) train or modern trains, with the TOC taking the fares in the latter case and paying an access charge to run over the heritage railway infrastructure. Whichever approach is adopted, financial support is going to be required to keep fares at a lower level.
Promotion and Marketing
Where heritage trains form an attractive day out, there is scope to encourage visits to them in the most sustainable way possible – by train. The majority of visitors to heritage railways come by car, but a growing number are looking to encourage visits by other modes for environmental reasons and to reduce pressure on building additional car parks. Walking, cycling, bus and train connections all feature in these plans. Particular mention must be made here of Great Western Railway which has not only produced an excellent booklet describing the railways to which they provide access, and also a comprehensive list of the railways concerned and links to their websites, but have also introduced through ticketing from national rail stations to four heritage railways – • Bodmin & Wenford • Cholsey & Wallingford • South Devon • West Somerset
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Overall, this is an excellent example for others to follow. In the past, the problem has been the complexity of heritage railway timetables, which are mainly seasonal, running at different times and certain days of the week, according to demand. Most people access information on train services now via the National Rail Enquiry Service (NRES) which overcomes this problem by showing just the plan for the day when an inquiry is made. Extending NRES to cover selected heritage railways would require the timetable data to be uploaded in a format compatible with that used by national train operators, and also station information pages to be provided too. Whilst this is not an expensive thing to do, it does require a level of commitment and engagement which, in the case of train operating companies is enforced by contract and licence condition. The process is perhaps too heavy handed for the requirements of heritage railways where the management of the company is likely to be by part time volunteers, and help with this will be needed, at least initially. The Group’s proposal therefore is that this input should be provided by the ‘foster’ TOC in line with the role described below.
Heritage railways are covered by the Equality Act, 2010, and do their best to make their railways as accessible as possible. This is sometimes challenging as their stations and rolling stock were all built many years before the legislation and in an era where little thought was given to accessibility other than by able bodied travellers. Derogations can be granted where modification to carriages, for example, would either be physically impossible, or destroy the heritage value of the vehicle, but even here, most railways have been wonderfully innovative in providing access to smaller, narrow gauge carriages, for example. If an expanded public transport role were provided, there is the question of how the Rail Vehicle Accessibility Regulations would be interpreted and applied. This might be overcome by the use of modern rolling stock running over heritage lines, but here too, the question of stepping distances (between train and platform) would arise as many heritage stations tend to have lower platform heights and clearances for the modern rolling stock may mean gaps between train and platform, particularly where the line is curved. Most of these issues can be resolved through a site specific examination of the circumstances at each station, but may involve cost to minimise any problems which would be a necessary part of the cost of upgrading lines for their new role.
On the national network, Passenger Focus has a supervisory role as well as carrying out much useful research on passenger patterns and preferences. PF is effectively an appeal body if the passenger is not satisfied with the response they receive from the
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TOC. It reports periodically on various aspects of passenger service delivery, with recommendations for improvement. Their writ does not run on heritage railways, and, whilst complaints are few by comparison, they are dealt with by the operating company. The sanctions are similar however, as the passenger always has the choice to visit another heritage railway (or indeed another tourist attraction) if they are dissatisfied with their experience. Trip Advisor can be a strong determinant of the choice for future visits, so heritage railways try hard (and successfully) to give their passengers an enjoyable day out. It is assumed for the purpose of this report, that this situation would not change if a heritage line were to offer a wider public transport service, but this would need to be tested with Government in specific cases, particularly if the service were to be provided with public subsidy. Again, responding to a professional statutory watchdog is a big ask of a body essentially run by volunteers in their own time and would certainly take time and money to undertake these additional responsibilities properly. It is another piece of intervention that would discourage heritage railways from being involved in a wider role in public transport provision.
If the Government or the local transport planning authority wanted to contract with a heritage railway to provide enhanced services, including through services to and from the national network, and these are not sustainable through fares revenue alone, there is no reason why they should not be provided under a Passenger Service Contract, along the lines of that to be used by GBR to secure services on the national network. Again, this may be a rather elaborate way of securing a modest enhancement, and if legislation were required to permit Government to do this, a simpler approach might be for the ‘foster’ TOC to provide this through a simplified contract to meet a general direction by the Minister set out in its own PSA.
Under the method proposed, the national train operating company most closely linked to the heritage railway concerned would become a surrogate support for the heritage line and would help with the provision of through ticketing, promotion and marketing, input to NRES and as an interface between the heritage railway, and other parts of the national rail network. It could also procure the additional services required by agreement with the heritage railway rather than this being the subject of a contract with Government or Great British Railways. The arrangements in respect of the provision of trains on the Stourbridge Town branch by the specialist class 139 units might provide some useful indicators for such an approach.
Expectations Expectations are high on the scope for reopened railways, or for the greater use of heritage railways. Similarly, there is a strong sense of ownership by volunteers of ‘their’ railway, and some do not wish to see their nostalgic vision clouded by the arrival of modern rolling stock or other changes having a visual impact of the stations (for example, if CCTV cameras or platform mirrors were required for driver controlled operation.) Their views need to be taken into account, as without their involvement, and those of the earlier pioneers over a 50 year period, the railway would not be there at all, either for tourist or wider public transport use. Sponsoring Department Heritage railways deliver on so many aspects of Government policy, in which a number of departments have an interest, notably: • DCMS – heritage, culture and tourism, car free access to the countryside • DfT - sustainable transport, safety (ORR), links with Great British Railways, use of redundant railway formations, (Highways Agency), level crossings. • DEFRA – environmental issues, sustainability, coal policy, access to the countryside • DWP – employment, apprenticeships and skills training • DHSC - healthy lifestyles through avoiding car dependency, mental wellbeing, particularly for volunteers Uncertainties over responsibilities for heritage railways point to the need for a single point of contact on engaging with Government, and with safety of prime importance and links with Great British Railways being a key issue in developing leisure travel by rail (both heritage and national), the Department of Transport appears to be best placed to be effective here, recognising that as GBR develops, many of the issues may come within their powers to assist, as we recommended in our 2013 report on the Value of Heritage Railways. Other points raised in evidence included: • The West Somerset Railway made the important point that the railway was the catalyst for other tourist businesses within their area, so the importance of sustaining the attractiveness of the tourist offer had an economic importance well beyond the marginal additional transport benefits that it might provide. • Important to consider the effect of providing a new service on heritage lines is the effect on the local bus service, if there was a risk that they might become unviable as a result. • A more frequent service, or one extended into the evenings, may attract criticisms from neighbouring home owners and there have been past examples where local authorities have sought to restrict hours of operation through planning conditions.
1. Post pandemic, the principal opportunities for growth on rail is in the leisure market and this is an area where heritage railways and the national network share objectives. It is essential that Great British Railways, DfT and DCMS work closely together to ensure that this exciting opportunity is seized as tourism continues to grow and as GBR takes on its new responsibilities. 2. Demographic and social changes have brought new opportunities for many heritage railways since they were first established between 40 and 60 years ago. Further long run changes will also bring new opportunities, so that every effort should be made to keep options open for future extensions or links to the national network. 3. The business models of heritage and national rail services are quite different, and the provision of broader based public transport services on heritage railways will result in higher costs and require a greater input from railways that are essentially run by volunteers who may require help to give them the capabilities they will require. 4. Of the 156 heritage railways in the United Kingdom, 32 are connected to the national network or have a reasonable interchange with it. However, relatively few will be in a position to offer a comprehensive public transport service to communities of significant size. Whilst 11 connect larger communities to the national network, with two more proposed, not all of these would be able to support a regular commuter service. 5. No fewer than 19 heritage railways however, serve important and sensitive tourist areas, including National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty or small towns or other sensitive areas, where an alternative to car access will become increasingly important on environmental grounds. Two additional links are proposed. 6. Not every heritage railway will have a potential market to be served, and not every railway will want to be involved in expanding their services in this way. Some have concerns about volunteer reaction to such an expansion. 7. A limitation on the ability of heritage railways to offer an attractive alternative form of public transport is the 25 mph speed limit. However, planning to increase speeds above that brings with it a raft of additional safety requirements, significantly higher costs and complexity. 8. Improving bus information on access to heritage railways would help to encourage more visitors by public transport. 9. Inclusion of selected heritage railway information on the National Rail Enquiries website would make it easier for people to plan visits to heritage railways or the places they serve. 10. The national railway is a big and complex organisation. Most heritage railways will know
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Annex 1 List of Witnesses
Close Encounters. The Isle of Wight Steam Railway and Island Line come very close at Smallbrook Junction, but there is no physical connection. (Stephen and Lucy Dawson)
their local train operator, but a single point of contact at DfT and Network Rail for an initial approach from individual heritage railways would be helpful in taking ideas forward.
1. Closer links with heritage railways connecting with main line train operators should be encouraged and incentivised through the Passenger Service Agreements, in much the same way as is done for Community Rail lines and services. 2. DfT and the new Great British Railways should encourage joint promotion and marketing with heritage railways to encourage leisure travel on both systems, by developing the synergy between them. 3. DfT and Great British Railways should develop the concept of ‘foster TOCs’ to work with heritage railways on their patch and assist in joint promotions, through ticketing and to procure additional services where agreed, to meet a greater public or tourist transport need. 4. Better recognition of the existence of heritage railways should be provided on the National Rail Enquiry System, and where regular trains run on to or make direct connection with heritage railways, information on the heritage rail service should be provided on NRES. 5. A wide range of benefits are brought by heritage railways, to tourism, employment, the local economy, skills training, wellbeing and mental health as well as transport benefits particularly for car-free journeys. With this in mind, any assessment of future wider public transport use would need to be designed to protect these benefits and in particular to take account of the views of the trustees and staff of the railways to avoid damage to the heritage features of the
6. Heritage railways should, through the HRA and with the Department for Transport, identify those heritage railways where there is a prospect of extension to link with the national rail network, and to identify those sections of line that would need protection through local planning guidance,
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Chris Heaton-Harris MP, Minister of State, Department for Transport Sir Peter Hendy, Chairman, Network Rail Mark Hopwood CBE, Managing Director, Great Western Railway Ian Prosser CBE, Chief Inspector of Railways, ORR Jonathan Jones-Pratt, Chairman, West Somerset Railway Paul Lewin, Director and General Manager, Ffestiniog/ Welsh Highland Railways Peter Milford, Company Secretary, Swanage Railway Chris Price, General Manager, North Yorkshire Moors Railway Steve Oates, Chief Executive Officer, Heritage Railway Association Nick Wood, Director, Bodmin & Wenford Railway
Isle of Wight Steam Railway Weardale Railway Thanks also to advice from: Rail Delivery Group Department for Transport Annex
2 Lines serving tourist destinations with main line connections
Railway Tourist Junction destination Bodmin & Wenford Bodmin Bodmin and Parkway Camel Trail Bure Valley+ Dartmouth Steam Dean Forest Hoveton & W’ham Paignton Lydney Norfolk Broads River Dart and Greenway House Forest of Dean Ffestiniog+ Keighley & Worth Valley Keith & Dufftown Mid Hants North Yorkshire Moors Peak Rail Ravenglass & Eskdale+ South Devon Strathspey Swanage Telford Steam Vale of Rheidol+ Welsh Highland Heritage+ Minffordd* Snowdonia Wensleydale Keighley Haworth, Brontë country Keith Speyside and distilleries Alton South Downs National Park Grosmont North Yorkshire Moors National Park Matlock Peak District National Park Ravenglass Eskdale, Hardknott Pass, Harter Fell Totnes Dartmoor National Park Aviemore Cairngorm National Park Wareham Isle of Purbeck, Corfe Castle Telford Central# Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site Aberystwyth Devils Bridge Porthmadog Snowdonia National Park Northallerton Yorkshire Dales National Park West Somerset Taunton Exmoor National Pk, Dunster Castle With main line connections planned in future: Embsay & Bolton Abbey Kent & East Sussex
including those sections of former route now being managed by Highways England. 7. The Department for Transport should be the lead Government department for heritage railways, and the point of contact to put railways in touch with other Government departments, such as DCMS, where appropriate.
Annex 3 - Communities of over 10,000 population served by heritage rail lines with national rail links Town (Population) Bodmin (12,778) Bo’ness (14,604) Bridgnorth (12,200) Brixham# (17,457) Dereham (18.609) Heywood (28.205) Minehead (12,000) Ramsbottom (17,872) Rawtenstall (22,000) Swanage (11,500) Wallingford (11,600)
Miles* National Rail station Railway 3.5 Bodmin Parkway Bodmin & Wenford 5.0 Linlithgow Bo’ness & Kinniel 15.5 Kidderminster Severn Valley 3.0 Paignton Dartmouth Steam 11.5 Wymondham Mid Norfolk 0.5 Castleton East Lancashire 23.0 Taunton West Somerset 8.5 Castleton+ East Lancashire 12.5 Castleton+ East Lancashire 11.0 Wareham Swanage 2.0 Cholsey Cholsey & Wallingford
Proposed Future Extensions Newport IOW (25,926) 8.0 Oswestry (17,400) 2.2
Smallbrook Junction Gobowen
IOW Steam Railway Cambrian Heritage Rly
Notes: * Miles of heritage railway to junction point with Network Rail; # Served by Churston station + Accessible to Manchester via short walk to Bury Interchange (Metro link) or by rail to Castleton.
Heritage Railway Association welcomes important proposals from Parliamentarians’ supporting more integration of Heritage Railways with the national network The APPGHR, which is chaired by Rt Hon Liz Saville Roberts MP and includes HRA President Lord Faulkner and Baroness Nicky Morgan amongst its members, worked with witnesses and contributors to look into if and how heritage rail could be part of the daily commute, noting that 32 heritage railways are connected to the national network or have an effective passenger interchange with it, and 19 heritage railways already serve important and sensitive tourist areas including national parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Commenting on the Report’s seven recommendations which include developing closer links with mainline train operators, encouraging joint promotions, and working with the proposed new Great British Railways, HRA CEO, Steve Oates said: “We now have some really important proposals from the APPGHR to help support and develop heritage rail. The report recognises that a wide range of benefits are brought by heritage railways to tourism, employment, the local economy, skills training, wellbeing and mental health, as well as transport benefits particularly for car-free journeys. “Some of our member lines are already connected up to Network Rail and offer a degree of local discount to the community who are able to use the route as a utility
service. Along with the Department for Transport we now want to identify more of those heritage railways where there is a prospect of an extension link to the main line network. “This may also help protect against Highways England demolishing infrastructure where they are currently managing sections of former routes.” In the feedback from heritage railways contributing, one of the main concerns was the issue of cost where the business models of heritage and national rail services are quite different. Heritage railways operate at speeds no higher than 25mph. Travelling above this would mean additional safety requirements which would increase costs considerably. Evidence from the ORR made clear that the approach would be to examine each case on its merits and assess risk looking at regulations which currently apply to train operating companies and main line rail networks. The APPGHR say there were struck by the positive approach and attitudes from all of the those contributing, supporting the view of the Minister, Chris Heaton-Harris MP that Restoring Your Railway was arguably the most popular railway policy ever
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The New Counties David Bradshaw
Since the first article was published late in 2020, 3840’s main frames have been erected at Tyselay Locomotive Works, the hornguides and spring hangers (four new and four reclaimed) have been fitted and the dragbox manufactured, with installation expected to take place within the next few weeks. Second hand items obtained have been four axleboxes, four tiebars, four T links, a pair of driving underkeeps, two crossheads, four slidebars and a chimney. The first bogie wheelset complete with axleboxes has been delivered to Tyseley and successful discussions have taken place over the removal of the other wheelset, eccentric sheaves, boiler and tender chassis from Didcot whilst we continue to search for more surplus items. The casting of the cylinders has been delayed because the first contractor pulled out at the last minute and a new one had to be found. Having achieved that goal, casting of the first is expected to be undertaken in the next few weeks. The Cylinder Club set up to fund the new inside steampipe cylinder block has reached the stage where we can fund the castings but not the machining, so further support would be gratefully received.
Nameplate sponsored by John Buxton of Cambrian Transport
(Above) The refurbished pattern (Below) Two driving wheels
(Below) The dragbox
(Above) The bogie Wheelset (Below) The frames
In the early part of the year we entered into a contract with Trefoil Steel of Sheffield to cast the 6’2” (6’8 ½” with tyres) driving wheels using the refurbished pattern originally made for 2999 Lady of Legend. The first two were successfully cast in late Spring this year and work will start shortly to alter
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Diagram of the Cab and Splashers
the pattern so that the remaining two can be cast. The alteration is necessary as the centre boss is larger on the driven wheelset than on the trailing one. The Forty 4-4-0’s Club appeal where supporters can donate £1000 and adopt one or more of the 40 original County 4-4-0’s was set up fund the casting of the driving wheels but is now out of date and we believe that this sum (plus Gift Aid) should cover the cost of assembling the wheelsets as well. The appeal has reached the three quarters stage with 28 names adopted. Ten of the class were named after Irish and eleven after Welsh Counties and some of these remain to be sponsored. We are currently researching the acquisition of tyres and axles for the driving wheels so that we will be ready to complete the wheelsets when we have successfully raised the remaining money. The next phase of the build will focus on cab, splashers and running plate for which production drawings are being prepared by Bob Meanley. All the items mentioned above apart from machining the cylinder blocks and extension frames are fully funded. We are looking for additional supporters to allow the project to continue to progress. Fund raising continues satisfactorily and our membership base is growing. We have also reached agreement with the Gloucester & Warwickshire Railway for the engine to be based at Toddington after completion. It will of 90
course be available for hire on other Heritage Railways during this time. We are frequently asked whether it is our intention to ‘make improvements’ to the design the answer to which is an emphatic ‘no’. These engines were known to haul huge loads and reach speeds in the mid-eighties, despite their reputation as rough riders. Our objective is to replicate the design as closely as possible and the only changes will be methods of producing the parts such as the use of poly patterns and changes to anything which may be considered safety critical. Great Western Star Summer 2021
Initial bio-coal trials show promise as HRA member railway takes the lead Heritage Railway Association member, the Bure Valley Railway has held the most extensive trials of bio–coal on a heritage steam line in the UK to date.
The Bio-Fuels Trial
The trials, a cooperation between members of the Advanced Steam Traction Trust (ASTT), Bure and HRA took place over two days, Friday 11th June and Monday 14th June. The 10.15 departure to Wroxham on the Friday burnt the usual Welsh coal from Ffos-y-fran as a base comparator under test conditions, on the narrow gauge line. The second round trip test train burnt Homefire Ecoal50 and departed Aylsham around 14:00. Monday saw engines fire with Briteflame and Homefire Ovals. All three products are from a range of manufactured smokeless fuel samples given to the Bure Valley Railway for the trials by CPL Industries. Andrew Barnes, Managing Director of the Bure Valley Railway explained careful measurements were taken during the experiment: “Fuel in the tender was weighed, the amount of water consumption and ash left in the ash pan and smoke box were also measured. Tranducers were rigged to a computer in the lead carriage to measure smoke box vacuum, exhaust performance, and speed.” “All three fuels functioned well but Homefire Ecoal50, made up of 50% biomass, notably crushed olive husks which would otherwise end up in landfill with the associated risks of methane, and 50% traditional solid fuel fines, was an unqualified success giving the same performance as our usual Welsh coal whilst emitting up to 40% lower emissions.” ASTT produced the test protocol, provided the test equipment and supervised the trials. John Hind, Chair ASTT said: “We are not only looking at performance here but how the bio-fuel burns and what will be acceptable to passengers? Homefire Ecoal50 is the nearest to recreating that unique ambience visitors expect recreating the smell of heritage steam.” The results from the trials were as follows: Homefire Ecoal50 came out on top with an exact match for the performance of coal, Briteflame showed 80- 85% of the performance of coal but with significantly higher ash output. Homefire Ovals had 95% of the performance of coal. HRA’s CEO Steve Oates attended the event. He said: “It’s excellent to see one of our member railways taking the lead. The timing couldn’t have been better. As carbon came under the spotlight at the G7 summit, a UK steam railway has been testing an alternative to fossil fuel. Although heritage steam only produces 0.023% of total UK carbon emissions
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(Above) The Bure Valley used for the trials (Below)Loading the Bio-fuel
we continue to be very focussed on finding ways to reduce this further.” Andrew Barnes, MD of Bure Valley Railway added: “The trials have been a positive step forward for the future of Heritage Steam and suggest that, certainly for 15-inch gauge lines, we now have 2 viable alternatives to coal. More trials will of course be needed under controlled conditions for larger narrow-gauge and standard gauge steam.
(Above) The Bio-fuel (Below) Fuel in the Firebox
“We are all in this together and we want to find a solution that will work for the lines that use a couple of thousand tonnes of coal through to the operations like Bure Valley using around 100 tonnes a year.” Commenting on their involvement with the trials, Julian Martin, Sales Director at CPL Industries said: “We are delighted to be involved in the project with the HRA, Bure and ASTT and are pleased with the results. CPL industries is keen to play its part in supporting the heritage industry in its journey to transition to renewable biofuels. Homefire Ecoal50 is a second generation biofuel and we are working towards manufacturing a 100% renewable smokeless fuel made from unwanted biomass materials, which could be tailored to meet the unique requirements of different types of steam engines. CPL industries currently imports 200 thousand tonnes of coal a year for use by our industrial, domestic and heritage customers and we feel uniquely placed to play a key role in helping our customers move towards a low carbon and renewable future.” The trials were also attended by a representative of Network Rail. The HRA is committed to supporting further testing of bio-fuels and working with member railways, Network Rail, the National Railway Museum (part of the Science Museum Group), ASTT and bio-fuel producers to find an industry wide solution that will eventually lead to a carbon free future.
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RAILWAY NEWS FROM AROUND THE PRESERVATION SCENE Not Your Average Tyre Change!! Heritage railway engineers at the South Devon Railway (SDR) know only too well that fitting heavy, new steel tyres to a steam locomotive is a lengthy and complex process, and it’s certainly nothing like the average tyre change at a garage which is usually done in minutes! So, in week one of the six-week long nationwide ‘Love Your Railway’ awareness campaign which started on the 26th July and whose first theme is ‘Heritage’ here’s how a steam railway tyre is changed in both words and pictures. Unlike your standard car tyre, these four to six feet diameter wheels take virtually a full day to fit each one and require the use of some heavy-duty, traditional engineering machinery. The SDR can also fit even bigger wheels well over six feet in diameter as well, and smaller ones too. Most steam locomotive have at least four large driving wheels, and often six, but sometimes eight, plus two or four wheels on ‘pony trucks’ at
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the front or back! The tyres are made from topquality steel sourced from South Africa, which means it can take six to nine months to get the different sizes ordered and shipped to the UK. In the attached pictures, the retyring process is shown whereby the engineers place the now machined steel tyre inside a gas-powered hearth. This heats up the metal tyre ring until it’s ‘cooked’ sufficiently so that it expands just enough to then drop the wheel centre into the middle of the tyre very carefully. The steel tyre then cools, causing it to shrink to fit the wheel centre tightly and it is then further secured by either using rivets; ‘double nip’ or Gibson ring methods later.
The enduring popularity of heritage railways and steam engines means the engineering team at Buckfastleigh in Devon, have been kept busy even throughout lockdown. Dick Wood, PR Manager for the South Devon Railway said: "The older, traditional steel railway wheels have a conventional tyre fitted in a similar way to a car. The tyre on the outside is the bit which wears out and eventually needs to be replaced. We take the new tyre and heat it steadily in a hearth to the right temperature and size so it expands, and then we can drop the wheel centre in snugly so that it shrinks to fit tightly onto the wheel centre as it cools. It’s a precision process with tolerances roughly the thickness of a human hair. Then, we finally secure the tyre to the wheel centre using different methods depending on the specification required by the owner.
RAILWAY NEWS FROM AROUND THE PRESERVATION SCENE
It's very important for safety that the tyre doesn't move on the wheel centre. "It's a very specialised process and we've invested a lot of time, money and expertise to do this heavy engineering work. There are some other companies that do this work too, but we are definitely one of the leading operators of this traditional railway technology. "And there is plenty of work to go around keeping the country’s steam engines going and older diesel locos
on the network fitted with traditional tyres – so far, the SDR’s engineering business reckons to have fitted some 3,000 tyres in ten years! “The big problem all steam loco owners face is simple -- the cost of keeping them absolutely up-to-date in order to satisfy stringent safety requirements is going ever higher every year. "So, most heritage railways like us are lucky if their steam train operations break even, and Covid certainly hasn't helped us with a £2
Successful the WSR
were swiftly loaded onto a small fleet of waiting buses for the trip onto Minehead in just nine minutes! It was impressive! There can be little doubt that the RTC charter passengers will have rung a few tills in Minehead and Watchet for a few hours whilst they were in the town prior to the later return leg to London! And the further good news is that another similar RTC ‘West Somerset Steam Express’ charter hauled by ‘Bahamas’ is coming to the WSR again on Saturday 14 August too when a similar railway and bus-link operation will be operating via Watchet.
As further evidence of what the WSR is doing to boost to help Minehead, Watchet and West Somerset business traders after the start of our Red Summer timetable, plus the introduction of the regular Dunster to Minehead heritage bus-link which will operate until Seaward Way level crossing opens in September or October, the Railway Touring Company (RTC) ran a special main-line ‘West Somerset Steam Express’ charter train to the WSR from London Paddington hauled by former LMS ‘Jubilee’ Class steam loco No. 45596 ‘Bahamas’ on Saturday 24 July. The packed train arrived at Bishops Lydeard where ‘Bahamas’ was taken off for servicing and turning, being replaced by two WSRbased Manor Class engines Nos. 7822 ‘Foxcote Manor’ and 7828 ‘Odney Manor’ for the journey over the WSR line to the coast where some 300 passengers on the special train disembarked at Watchet where some could visit the town, but many more
Art Exhibition by Local Artist on GWSR
The work of acclaimed artist Laurence Fish, whose studio was latterly in Winchcombe, Gloucestershire, will be celebrated at the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway’s (GWSR) Winchcombe station over the weekend of 18th and 19th September*. The event was postponed from May 2020 and again from July this
LMS 4-6-0 NO 45690 Leander at Norton Fitzwarren Junction on 29th August, heading for Taunton to take over the Taunton-Plymouth leg of theRailway Touring company’s Royal Duchy Railtour (Malcolm Anderson)
Million loss incurred, but thankfully offset by us raising £1.3 Million in donations and Government and Council grants. Our engineering business was the only part of the SDR that worked normally throughout the lockdowns, so that income was vital. "We feel it's important to continue and continue to develop the heritage engineering skills we have in place here at the SDR, and so keep them alive for future generations to enjoy steam trains for another 100 years hopefully."
Jean Bray at Winchcombe station with her lavish book about the life and work of her late husband Laurence Fish (Ian Crowder) year, thanks to continuing Covid restrictions. Three new short films by local cinematographer Richard Suckling, celebrating the railway and aviation art of Laurence Fish, will also be screened during the event. Laurence Fish was the last of a long line of celebrated artists commissioned to create art to promote compelling destinations served by rail on outdoor posters. His images, produced in the 1960s as the age of steam was coming to an end, were displayed throughout the UK and Europe and are now sought-after collectors’ items. They are evocative reminders of the days when many families enjoyed travelling by train to their holiday resorts. He became one of the most versatile artists of the 20th century, starting his artistic career designing coachwork for bespoke coupé and saloon cars for the likes of Alvis, Bentley and Delahaye. During the War, his illustrative skills were sought after, particularly in countersabotage work for MI5 – producing sectional drawings showing the internal workings of lethal explosive devices and booby-trapped bombs to enable them to be safely detected and defused. Some of these drawings, including an exploding bar of
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RAILWAY NEWS FROM AROUND THE PRESERVATION SCENE
chocolate, will be displayed during the event at Winchcombe station on 18th and 19th September. After the War, Laurence Fish went on to an acclaimed career as a commercial artist, skilfully creating almost photographic-quality images of aircraft for magazines and aircraft makers as well as scenes promoting industry including oil, civil engineering and, of course, rail travel. Says Jean Bray, the late artist’s wife who is putting on the show in conjunction with the GWSR: “It was in poster art for British Railways that Laurence perhaps made his mark with some stunning if idealised paintings of holiday destinations, frequently featuring attractive ‘pinup’ girls. That would never be permitted today! “Most were produced in full colour while he created compelling duo-tone images too, for example promoting the Pullman services of the Southern Region.
“Such posters were a very familiar sight throughout the country but originals are extremely rare today and often command four-figure sums at specialist railwayana or art auctions. One of his posters won the 1960 National Outdoor Advertising Award.” She added: “It’s a case of third time lucky as this show has been postponed twice already. I’m really looking forward to what will be a showcase of Laurance’s work.” Jean Bray has produced a beautiful fine-art book: ‘Pick Up a Pencil’, crammed with hundreds of reproductions of Laurence Fish’s commercial as well as fine art in watercolour and oils. She will be signing copies of the book during the event. She adds: “Laurence was a romantic with an eager, inquiring mind which really translated into his art. Nevertheless, he was also quite a modest and private man which is perhaps why he isn’t as well-known as he should be.”
Steam locomotive ‘Jessie’ charging under our unique rail-over-rail bridge with a demonstration coal train bound for Furnace Sidings.
Blaenavon’s Heritage Railway Joins National “Love Your Railway” Campaign Blaenavon’s Heritage Railway is joining organisations from as far afield as Cornwall, Suffolk, North Wales, North East Scotland and Northern Ireland* in a new nationwide campaign to raise awareness of heritage railways. Spearheaded by the North Yorkshire Moors Railway (NYMR), ‘Love Your Railway’ is a six-week
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summer campaign from July 26th to September 5th, which aims to shine a spotlight on not only the important work heritage railways do with regards to conservation, education and research, but highlight how they have all been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of reduced capacities and income. Blaenavon’s Heritage Railway is
Richard Johnson, chairman of GWSR Plc which operates the popular Cheltenham Racecourse-Broadway heritage railway commented: “I’m thrilled that at the third attempt, we can do something to promote the work of Laurence Fish through the ‘Posters from the Steam Age’ exhibition, especially as during his later years his studio was in Winchcombe. “Whether his posters appeared on our railway stations I’m not sure as the stations were closed from 1960 just as Laurence’s work was being widely commissioned by British Railways, so this is a chance to right that omission!” The event is free to enter and takes place in the new Tim Mitchell building on Platform 1 of Winchcombe Station. As car parking is very limited, it is best to travel by train to Winchcombe station – just as Laurence Fish’s posters urged people to do – from Cheltenham Racecourse, Toddington or Broadway. Full details of train services and fares can be found on www.gwsr.com. collaborating with the NYMR and over 35 other famous heritage railways, including The Bluebell Railway, Crich Tramway Village, Severn Valley Railway and Snowdon Mountain Railway. Jamie Warner, Secretary of the Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway Company (1983) Limited, said that the railway was excited to become involved in the campaign: “After enduring the most challenging period in our 40-year history, 2021 has seen Blaenavon’s Heritage Railway return to going from strength to strength. “We’ve experienced incredible interest and support from the public, and after initial fears about how just well visitor numbers would recover, we ended up enjoying record passenger numbers throughout May and June. “By becoming involved in the ‘Love Your Railway’ campaign, we hope that our visitors and neighbours alike can learn more about the work that we do and discover some of the heritage and stories behind our little railway.” Chris Price, General Manager at NYMR, said: “We’re optimistic and excited about the summer ahead, but the last 12 months have been like no other year, with lockdowns, reduced capacities due to social distancing, and staff and volunteers falling victim to the virus. The six themed weeks are: Heritage, Education, Volunteers, Family, Sustainability and Future.
Restoration of GWR locomotive 4110 Steve Masters MEng
Chief Mechanical Engineer East Somerset Railway & Dartmouth Steam Railway
History of the Collett Designed GWR 5100 Class 2-6-2T No 4110
Built at Swindon in 1936, 4110 was initially allocated in October of that year to Severn Tunnel Junction to undertake tunnel banking duties. Two months later it was moved to the Wolverhampton district where it stayed for most of the next 26 years. It operated on the intensive local passenger services from Birmingham Snow Hill and Moor Street stations to Leamington Spa, Stratford upon Avon and Warwickshire in general. In March 1942 until April 1943 it was based at Birkenhead before returning to the Birmingham area. Whilst at Taunton in 1962, 4110 was deployed on the branch line to Minehead which is now the West Somerset Railway and at Neath in 1963 it worked the Vale of Neath line to Pontypool Road on its last day of passenger services in June 1964. It was withdrawn in June 1965 during the conversion from steam to diesel haulage, having run over 730,000 miles in mainline service. It was sold for scrap to Woodham Brothers at Barry and entered the scrapyard in August 1965. It remained there until May 1979 following its purchase for preservation by the Great Western Preservation Group at Southall Railway Centre. It was the 100th locomotive to leave the Barry scrapyard. 4110 then moved to the Birmingham Railway Museum at Tyseley for contract restoration. Only a partial amount of restoration was completed before the owners decided to put the engine up for sale in order to release funds for the completion of work on 5700 class engine 9682. The West Somerset Railway put in a competitive tender and bought 4110 in 2015 and the locomotive was then moved to Minehead in June 2015. In 2016 it was estimated that it would take three to five years once the funds and resources to undertake the work is available. It was then owned by WSR plc who planned to have it in traffic in 2022.
With no work having been done on the locomotive by May 2018 consideration was being given by the West Somerset Railway to a possible sale of the locomotive. Any sale would be conditional on the locomotive being hired back to the WSR once it was restored. Towards the end of 2018 a group (GWR 4110 Ltd) was set up to buy the locomotive. At the same time the West Somerset Railway Association announced that they had agreed to accept ownership of the locomotive and future stewardship. It was later announced that the locomotive was had been sold to the Paignton and Dartmouth Railway as this was the best bid and the WSR needed the funds. The locomotive will run at a WSR gala at no cost as part of the deal. The locomotive was moved to the Dartmouth Steam Railway in February 2019. In September 2019 the East Somerset Railway announced that they were close to completing a deal with the Dartmouth Steam Railway to restore. the locomotive. As part of the arrangement 4110 will operate on the East Somerset Railway for three years following its restoration. The locomotive moved to Cranmore on the East Somerset Railway in January 2020 and restoration work was planned to start straight away.
Restoration Finally Begins after 40 Years!
The boiler was lifted off the frames in February 2020 following the removal of the tanks, cab and bunker.The restoration work reached a milestone in October 2020 when the frames were re-wheeled at the East Somerset Railway. In January 2021 it was
reported that the work on the locomotive was on schedule to have it in steam in 2023.
4110 arrived here at Cranmore in February 2020 and after a rapid start stripping and dismantling what was left of the loco, progress was hit hard by the introduction of the first Covid lockdown! Fortunately there were still tasks we could complete
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1. 4110 at Dartmouth prior to moving to Cranmore for overhaul. The poor condition of the tanks can clearly be seen here.
4. The horn grinding in progress.
2. A 3D CAD model of the cylinders and cladding
5. The optical telescope set up in the LH cylinder. 3. A 3D CAD model of the tanks, boiler cladding and ashpan.
away from the workshop including many machining jobs in some of our volunteers home workshops and also a lot of time was spent creating the 3D CAD models for the boiler cladding, cylinder cladding, tanks, bunker, ashpan and many other items which enable us to buy laser cut profiles ensuring great accuracy as well as huge time savings.
Reatoring the Frames
The frames were lifted off the wheels and all components were stripped, cleaned and inspected. The frames were cleaned back and tested for cracks. As soon as any welding or riveting work was complete, the frames were sat on stands and were weighed and shimmed to ensure that each stand carried the correct proportion of weight. This meant that the frames were sat naturally and were not sagging at any point and so had the least stress.
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Once set up in this way, we set about using our horn grinder which is of our own design. The grinder and it’s accessories are set up using optical alignment gear running down the centre of the cylinders. This ensures that the horns are ground perfectly square to the centreline of the frames and are upright. Due to the way the horn grinder works, the finished surfaces are flat and parallel to within 0.002”. Once the horn grinding was complete, the optical gear was again set up to enable us to take very accurate measurements of where the horn faces were relative to one another as well as from the cylinders. By entering all these measurements together with the design clearances etc into our spreadsheet, a set of dimensions are generated for each axlebox to be machined to give the precise location of the axle and position the axles in a straight line. This ensures that the axle centres are correct and that there is equal side to side travel each way for each axle as required.
6. The dummy axles set up in each horn way. Used in conjunction with the optical gear gives very accurate results.
9.The new side tanks in progress being built in situ.
7. The frames being rewheeled with the use of two road cranes.
10. All new crown stays fitted to the top of the firebox.
time exposed at Barry. The valve liners were bored up a size and have plenty of life left in them. The cylinder bores did not quite clean up at max size and so are awaiting the fitting of new liners taking them down to the original start size again.
Tanks and Bunker
8. The newly completed bunker fully riveted externally but welded on the inside and on the base.
With all this work complete, the frames were painted before being rewheeled. All of the valve gear was inspected and measured and in most cases, new bushes made and fitted as well as new motion pins being made, hardened and ground. The brake gear was done in the same way. The cylinders were inspected and measured. The cylinder and valve bores were badly pitted from its
The original tanks and bunker were in a very sorry state and needed replacing. The new tanks and bunker were supplied to us as folded, laser cut sections meaning that they simply needed assembling, riveting and welding together as required. The bunker is now finished and is in position on the loco and the two tanks are well advanced being built in position on the frames. This has several advantages to us. Firstly the frames provide the perfect level base to build them, we know that they will fit when finished and most importantly, they don’t occupy too much space in our workshop! The boiler has also made very good progress since being lifted from the frames. The first task was to shotblast all of the steel surfaces in preparation for a full NDT (crack detection) survey. This confirmed that the boiler was in relatively good health with only really the lower sections of the throat plate,
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11. The boiler upside down with the lower (now upper!) sections cut away and the foundation ring removed.
12. New doorplate section formed and offered up to the original plate work and foundation ring.
doorplate and side sheets needing replacing due to excessive wastage and being too thin. In all four of these plates, the wastage was external rather than internal and so is likely to be the result of the long term storage outside since being scrapped rather than due to stress corrosion on the inside when in service.
As soon as the welder has been, we will be able to finish off this bottom end of the boiler by riveting up the foundation ring and fitting the last few hundred side stays. The boiler will then be turned back up the right way for us to fit the flues and tubes. We are hopeful to have the loco complete some time next year in 2022 where it will run at the East Somerset Railway for 3 years before then returning to the Dartmouth Steam Railway.
The general condition of the firebox was very good and can not have been too old when the loco was withdrawn as all of the stays were at the start size. Even the smokebox has enough thickness to do another 10 years of service quite happily and so is being left in place. All of the steel side stays and the crown stays were badly corroded and so needed replacing. Many of the side stays had already been burnt out of the copper side already but they all needed drilling from the steel outside. With the boiler sat up the right way, the crown stays and side stays were all removed, the holes reamed and tapped and new stays fitted. Once complete, the boiler was turned upside down onto a purpose made boiler trolley. This then allowed us to cut away the wasted steel platework and remove the foundation ring. New sections of boiler plate were then cut and bent around our formers in house before carefully grinding the weld preps to give an equal gap for a coded welder to weld up in the near future.
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Sister locomotive No 4141 in steam
A Night Owl Emerges from the Dark - Part 4 Paul Perton, Marketer, Writer and Photographer Activities and production of parts for 4709 continue to make significant progress in several key work areas. Having finally achieved the casting of two 4709 cylinder blocks using polystyrene patterns, the castings have been stress relieved and delivered to a specialised engineering contractor in the Midlands for machining. Even in this modern high-tech world of locomotive restoration and construction, the casting of new cylinders is one of the less common activities. That may well change, as locos saved from Barry - most now in their eighties - are showing signs of longterm wear and tear, especially cylinders which not only suffer from wear, but also other degradation processes like rust and chemical attrition. The decision to cast new cylinders will largely be centred around the cost of wooden patterns and their cores. Pattern making is a highly skilled enterprise and given the complexities involved, high costs are a given. On 4709, we re-designed the cylinder block to accommodate the modern requirements of mainline running and conformance to the NR loading gauge. We also investigated ways by which the use of a wooden cylinder pattern could become economic and significantly reduce the risk of a casting failure - thereby lowering the unit cost. One line of enquiry was to review the pattern making process, to optimise the latest technologies. Another was to investigate the Swindon approach, whereby a standard cylinder pattern could be developed which had interchangeable sections to cover the maximum number of GWR classes. New technology won the day, with the CAD-based design for the revised cylinder being used to cut two identical patterns in blocks of polystyrene. On completion, 4709’s cylinders will be bolted together to make a siamesed pair. The positive benefits for other GWR locos needing new cylinders is now clear; much of the basic design work is complete, the technique of cutting the patterns in polystyrene is better understood with every new project and likewise, the casting process itself, more predictable and with outstanding results. After heat treatment, our cylinder blocks have each been sent to a specialised machine shop. Here, they have been set up on a horizontal boring machine for a thorough dimensional check to ensure that sufficient metal exists where it is needed - in the past, unaware machinists have taken too much metal from one end to find insufficient remaining at the other. Proven to be dimensionally correct and correctly set up, each cylinder then had one of its ends
(Above and Below) Machining the cylinder blocks
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(Above) the machined cylinder block) (Below) some of the wooden patterns
machined flat, to establish a measurement datum. The castings were then stood vertically on this datum end and the bolting faces machined at right angles to the ends. The bolting faces were then used as a datum and work commenced on opening up the bores. 4709’s cylinders are currently just at this stage. The next work package for 4709 is a set of new rear cylinder end covers. These are handed as the pressure relief valve boss changes sides and the angle of the gland box changes. These are complex patterns and have been made in wood, which means that they can be used again and again for other classes and locos, as needed. The front covers are symmetrical and a very straight forward job by comparison. The covers are being cast as this article goes to press. The finished items being sent to the same machine shop as the cylinders, once completed. The patterns for the compensating suspension arms are also complete and they too will be cast in the near future. These will require significantly less machining and will be ready to fit to the engine once the front end project is finished. In other 4709 news, the July issue of the Model Engineer Magazine carries a very detailed article showing all that had to be achieved at the foundry to cast our cylinders. This miniature world is full of excellent engineers who build locomotives, just in scales less than full size. We hope to work closely with the Model Engineer magazine and encourage readers and engineers of all ages to help us build 4709. There are tasks to suit everyone. Perhaps this will lead to young people electing to take up a career in engineering.
Machining the Cylinder Blocks
The machining of the two new cylinder blocks for 4709 is now well advanced at Roach Engineering at Brierley Hill in the West Midlands. As they are to be siamesed as a pair before installation in 4709’s chassis, the work is likewise being progressed Great Western Star is available on subscription through the website www.greatwesternstar.com It is available on Facebook, on Instagram and Twitter. Take Great Western Star with you wherever you go!
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Machining the cylinder blocks at Roach Engineering Ltd
with both castings being machined sequentially in stages, in preparation for their joining. This arrangement will ensure that machining operations are undertaken for each casting one after the other. With identical alignment for the first cylinder being used for machining the second, the team at Roach can ensure excellent dimensional repeatability, while saving significant time (and resources) by avoiding multiple set ups. New castings for the front and rear cylinder covers are also in train and will shortly join the newly cast valve covers already at Roach. The work is progressing to programme with completion expected in early Autumn. The finished covers will then join 4709’s cylinders, ready for assembly.
Mounting the Cylinder Assembly into the Frames
The next step will be to mount the new cylinder assembly into the extension frames. This work will be carried out by and under the supervision of the Dinmore Manor Fund’s Mike Solloway at the Tyseley workshops. Mike lives in the Midlands and recently successfully fitted new cylinders to former GWR 2-8-0, 3850. His expertise with almost exactly the same process for 4709, will be invaluable. The progress will see the front-end assembly offered up each of the extension frames and its
mating cylinder in order to ensure precise alignment of all the bolting holes. Once achieved, the cylinders are then bolted together upside down; the mating faces having been treated with sealant prior to the join. The extension frames are then final fitted to their respective cylinders and all of the newly machined bolts finally fitted. Only at this stage can the dimensions for the racking plate be measured, as it has to be installed to be a very ‘snug’ fit between the extension frames. When done, this allows the racking plate/ extension frame angle to be accurately machined, requiring very precise measurement to achieve the required standard of fit. Once all the numerous and newly machined bolts are finally in place, the twoton leading centre stay can then be machined from site dimensions and it too finally fitted in place. To complete the front-end assembly, the buffer beam will re-fitted. At this stage, the whole unit will be ready to be (re-)fitted into the 4709’s frames. The 4709 project is broken down into a series of work packages and we are now planning many months ahead with respect to the manufacture of various key components and how they can be funded. If you have a contribution to make, the 4709 Web site (https://www.4709.org.uk/) has a donation link on every page.
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News from the 6024 Preservation Society Ltd
Sponsored Cycle Ride for 6024
6024 member and volunteer, Tom Whittington, is fundraising to help with the final stages of the overhaul of 6024 by undertaking a sponsored cycle ride between Bishops Lydeard and Minehead on 11th September. The money raised will be split between the 6024 Preservation Society and our friends at the West Somerset Railway. If you would like to sponsor Tom please visit his Just Giving page at https://www.justgiving. com/crowdfunding/tom-whittington-6024?utm_ term=Bq3MvEqG8, or send a cheque to the individual organisations.
New bogies for the Support Coach No W35333. These B5 bogies replace the previously used Commonwealth type. We are now waiting on wheelsets and springs (Richard Corser
6024 Support Coach
Richard Corser has recently visited Arlington Fleet Service in Eastleigh to view progress on No.6024’s Mk1 support coach. The bogies, which have held up progress, are now onsite but we are still waiting on wheelsets and springs to allow them to be completed. New bolsters for the chassis to match the new bogies are being sourced. The outstanding work list has been agreed which will be progressed as soon as the coach is on its bogies. This includes a Network Rail funded fitment of a Controlled Emission Toilet (CET) to make the vehicle compliant with the latest standards for mainline operations. Whilst the overhaul has taken much longer than originally planned this is working in our favour as the CET work is only now ready to proceed. If the support coach had been finished sooner it would have had to have been lifted off its bogies again for CET fitting. Once completed the support coach will be moved to the WSR for further internal work.
As part of the work being undertaken on the inside of the support coach, some repanelling has taken place, as on this door (Richard Corser)
Model Railway Engines and Sundry Items for Sale
Due to health issues and a house move, expressions of interest are sought for the purchase of the following: 3.5″ gauge live steam modified Hall (out of boiler ticket, but has run), together with part-built Collett 4,000 gallon tender. Reeves LBSC Princess Marina, LMS 2-6-0 with tender, constructed it is believed in 1944 (has run, but no longer in boiler ticket). 3.5″ bogie driver’s trolley. Approx. 80 yard brass flat bottom rail with timber trestles both erected and unlaid, stored, unused. Complete workshop including MK7 Myford lathe (1955), single phase. Clarke metal worker pillar drill, single phase. Alpine complex drilling and milling machine (1980). Large quantity of steel and brass stock, tools and workshop sundries, together with work benches, shelves racking etc. etc. from 10′ x 8′ workshop. The whole to preferably be purchased as one ‘job lot’, but would consider splitting. Photographs available. Buyer to remove. Located south of Birmingham within five miles of the M42/J3. All enquires to Richard Abbey 01564 794343 or 07771 887172
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RAILWAY NEWS FROM AROUND THE PRESERVATION SCENE Telford Steam Railway hosts 250 passengers on restored Growler locomotive
Telford Steam Railway in Horsehay held its first public Gronk & Growler event at the end of August, and organisers said despite the non-stop rain on the Saturday, the weekend was a huge success. The Telford attraction had 250 passengers take part in this unique event, with some travelling from as far afield as Plymouth and Newcastleon-Tyne to take part. The event was held in conjunction with Rail Riders, a specialist rail enthusiasts’ group. The event was special as it was the first time that the Growler, the Class 37 diesel locomotive, has been used with a public passenger train, since it has been restored. The Gronk, a Class 08 diesel, was at the other end of the four-coach train. The Class 37, number 37263 was built in 1965 and withdrawn from passenger service in 1998. It was purchased and lovingly restored by two Telford Steam Railway members, Kevin Jones and Ian Heighway. The 37 was moved to Telford by road haulage and over the last few years has had many working parts replaced or restored, as well as now displaying splendid new paint work. The Telford Steam Railway Furnaces Tea Room and model railway layout on Bridge Road, Horsehay were also open. Plans are progressing for this year’s Polar Express Train Ride starting on November 26, everyday through to December 23, except Mondays. Tickets are selling fast and are now on sale at telfordsteamrailwaypolarexpress. digitickets.co.uk/tickets.
4709 moves again
Regrettably not under its own steam, but 4709 was last week moved to Tyseley, where removal of the extension frames and assembly of the entire front end is due to get under way immediately. “The work will include the final assembly and of the front end extension frames, racking plate, all of the racking plate fixing angles, the leading stay counterweight and eventually, fitting of the cylinders” says 4709’s Chief Engineer, Paul Carpenter. “Firstly though, the extention frames will have to be
Telford Steam Railway Gronk and Growler celebration event
4709 has been transferredtoTyseley for more work to be carried out (Paul Perton)
inverted to facilitate the work on the underside. Once complete and the cylinders are in place, the entire assembly will be righted and re-fitted to the chassis. So, a fully wheeled chassis isn’t so far away now.” “Meantime, work on the front and rear cylinder covers is also underway. Dudley’s Micron Alloys are working on the castings, which are due for completion shortly. The piston valve covers are complete and are already at Roach Engineering for machining. They will shortly be followed by the piston covers.” Once the extension frame has been
re-fitted, the team at Tyseley will initially have to align the cylinders, as that will for the datum for all the other measurements. Next up will be fitting the hornguides, spring hangers, wheels and axles. “As you might imagine, it’s a massive job, requires absolute accuracy and vital to getting the whole 4709 project back on schedule as soon as possible.” The move was successfully carried out by Ray Bowern’s Staffordshirebased Boat Transport and Cranage.
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RAILWAY NEWS FROM AROUND THE PRESERVATION SCENE
Wallingford at War - 2nd & 3rd October
Tickets are now on sale for "Wallingford at War", the 1940s weekend at Cholsey & Wallingford Railway. Experience the 1940s and the Second World War with authentic re-enactors, Home Guard, allied forces, learn all about rationing, Special Operations and Home Front displays along with 1940s singers and vintage vehicles. Can you spot the camouflaged sniper and be sure to keep an eye out for any illicit black market deals happening at the station. Winston Churchill and Field Marshal Lord Alanbrooke will be opening proceedings with a guard of honour from the Oxfordshire Home Guard. Interact with over 100 reenactors throughout the site, they’ll be able to tell you their story and have a surprise or two for you. What's on: A 1940s experience recreating the sights and sounds of Wallingford, and further afield, during World War 2. Vintage vehicles – traction engines, military vehicles, classic cars and motorbikes. Live music – from two fabulous singers performing the sounds of the 1940s to get your feet moving. Exciting interactive experiences with surprises in store throughout the day. Heritage train rides available on our rural branchline throughout the day. Food and drink. Plus much, much more! Find out more on the Wallingford at War website .
Diesel Days – Saturdays 11th, 18th and 25th September
The Bodmin & Wenford Railway is planning to run Diesel Day's on Saturdays 11th, 18th and 25th September! September will see a return to regular Diesel Days with 3 special days planned. Each day will see 5 trips, we will confirm which branches will be used nearer the time. All-Day rovers will be available on the day and there is no need to pre-book. An Adult Rover costs £17, a child £9. Services will be hauled by either our Class 50 50042 ‘Triumph’ or Class 47 47306 ‘The Sapper’ mainline diesel locomotives. This will
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Class 50 50042 ‘Triumph’ be confirmed nearer the time so keep an eye out on social media! Connections from mainline services will be available at Bodmin Parkway, you will be able to buy your ticket on arrival at Bodmin General. An Ivatt 2MT tank, number 41312, is joining us for a few weeks from it’s home at the Watercress Line 41312 is joining us for a few weeks, on hire from our friends at the Mid-Hants Railway, the Watercress Line. It has been steamed for the first time and passed its Fitness to Run and Gauging exams.
Somerset & Dorset Railway at Midsomer Norton CCT Progress - What a difference in 10 weeks!
CCT M94438 only arrived at Midsomer Norton on the 14th May 2021. Since then the interior has been cleared of rubbish and the ceiling panels which were in a poor state removed. One set of end doors with the panelling in very poor condition have been removed for refurbishing by working volunteer Dave Stickland who joined us only in the last few weeks and has already made a massive contribution to the work on site. New external metal sheeting has been fitted where sections of the bodywork were holed due to corrosion. The whole of one side has now received a first coat of BR maroon paint thanks to working
volunteers Alan Humphries and Maz Glanville. Once the CCT has been overhauled, the intention is to use it as a second hand book store to bring in some much needed funds for the railway.
Celebrating one year of ‘We are Railfans’ One of the few pluses to have come out of the Covid-19 lockdowns has been the surge in growth of railway and simulation video games for enthusiasts around the globe in order to stay in touch with their hobby, and each other, while the real trains were largely shut down.
Train Sim World
Heritage railways have sometimes been featured in these games, so offering wide exposure to a younger audience, most notably with the 2018 release of the West Somerset Railway route in ‘Train Sim World’ and the ability to drive virtually the WSR-based fleet of Diesel and Electric Preservation Group’s diesel locomotives, including a virtual gala across the entire 22 mile route and featuring Classes 09, 47, 33, 52, plus guest loco Classes 20, 31, 37, 40, 45 and even a Class 101 DMU.
We are Railfans
In July 2020, during tight Covid restrictions, a new railway initiative was created to try and bring together distinct areas of the railway hobby together called “We are Railfans” which aimed to give renewed interest to people about their railway interests, which can include such video games. And ‘We Are Railfans’ have been adding their support to the ongoing, six-week long ‘Love Your Railway’ UK nationwide campaign too. While the ‘Railfan’ name is widely used and known across North America, Canada, parts of mainland Europe, India plus Australia and New Zealand, it’s less common in the UK but is a rapidly growing movement and certainly a far cry from the past railway enthusiast stereotypes. The ‘We are Railfans’ project was spearheaded with a campaign video which has now been viewed over 1.3 million times on YouTube. Narrated by actor Sean Bean, the film is the work of video game developer Dovetail Games who are the makers of the now popular ‘Train Simulator’ and ‘Train Sim World’ franchises. Over the last 12 months, the project has worked to engage and interact with the international ‘railfan’ audience -- the global size of which is unknown but in 2009 was estimated to be 175,000 people in the USA alone. A wide range of
on-line articles have been produced, ranging from the specific histories of the huge, powerful North American steam and diesel locomotives to the quirkiness of British request halts or stops on rural branch lines. In addition, regular posts on social media platforms asked the established railway enthusiast audience to recall their favourite journeys, share photos or even submit their own content for the benefit of fellow railfans. Regular contributors have included US railroad author and photographer Gary Dolzall, plus ‘We Are Railfans’ own Joe Rogers, who drew on his experience in engaging with a railway audience from his time working at both Pecorama in Devon and the West Somerset Railway. As part of their support for the ‘Love Your Railway’ campaign ‘We Are Railfans’ shared a selection of heritage themed articles, including this in week one: https://www. wearerailfans.com/c/tags/ heritage?page=1
Week Two - Education
For week two, and the 'Education' theme, ‘We Are Railfans’ asked their 20,000 followers what they knew about their local lines and received a number of responses from US Railfans about the history of their local railroads, plus some resource articles were shared, including a basic guide to Whyte Notation on wheel arrangements: https://www. wearerailfans.com/c/article/visualguide-whyte-notation ‘We Are Railfans’ will continue to post selectively on the remaining four ‘Love Your Railway’ weekly themes of ‘Volunteers’, ‘Family’, ‘Sustainability’ and ‘Future’ in the coming weeks, and have tagged and mentioned a number of heritage lines around the country within the content. CEO of Dovetail Games Jon Rissik, said: “The ‘We Are Railfans’ initiative is something that I have wanted to get off the ground for many years and I can look back on the past 12 months with immense pride in making it succeed despite Covid-19 restrictions. I believe we offer railfans everywhere a truly unique resource for information and community sharing. The first ‘Railfan Fest’ we held in April this year was a fabulous success and
is something that we are looking to repeat and grow over the coming years. Moving into podcasts has also been a wonderful learning experience from our team, and I look forward to us delivering more great content for enthusiasts of the hobby in the months to come.” Emma Hearn, Dovetail Games’ Head of Brand, who led the ‘We are Railfans’ initiative said: “Having the ‘We Are Railfans’ project live for one year has been an amazing milestone for us, and to see how the railfan community has embraced this incentive since it began has been so rewarding. We have seen clearly how we can help railfans on their journey with this expansive hobby as well as beginning it, and so creating the next generation of railway enthusiasts. With so much to look forward to in the future, we hope that ‘We Are Railfans’, plus the success we have had with the first ‘Railfan Fest’, continues to bring this diverse, vast and knowledgeable audience together.” In April this year, Dovetail Games’ efforts culminated in their first virtual event - Railfan Fest 2021 - which was organised jointly with the ‘Train Simulator’ side of the business, and otherwise largely separate from ‘We Are Railfans’. This event, hosted on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, featured the likes of Amtrak, Hornby, PECO, the North Norfolk Railway and film maker Chris Eden-Green, as well as interviews with staff at New Jersey Transit, author Ian Logan and railway artist Tom Connell. The event was well received and drew in 12,000 viewers per day from both the railfan and gaming audiences. ‘We Are Railfans’ also jumped into the Podcast market – an area not frequented often by the railway world - with the ‘We Are Railfans’ podcast. This began with ‘Railfan TV’ chatting to broadcaster and ‘Revolution Trains’ founder Ben Ando about his passion for N Gauge modelling and the excitement over the future development of Britain’s railways. Further instalments are set to interview a selection of drivers and engineers to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of what it is like to be in control of some of the world’s most impressive railway locomotives and machinery. For more information see www.wearerailfans.com
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Thirty Years of Class 50 Preservation – A Remarkable Story Jonathan Dunster
Chaiman of Class 50 Alliance Ltd It’s thirty years since The Fifty Fund purchased the first Class 50 to enter preservation no. 50 035 Ark Royal. The three decades that followed are, by any measure is a remarkable story.
The Fifty Fund was formed by myself and Dave Keogh in October 1988 as it become clear the Class 50s were being phased out rapidly by British Rail. Fundraising was achieved by means of a simple share ownership scheme with shares priced at £25. By the summer of 1990 over £20,000 had been raised and we wrote to the BR Director of Supply requesting that we be included on notification of any tender for the sale of Class 50s. Frustrated by the lack of response, I eventually wrote to the Managing Director of Network South East, Chris Green to advise him of our intent and to request that he might consider disposal of some locomotives for preservation. Not long afterwards a tender list was issued offering locomotives 50008, 50019 and 50035 for sale. We submitted a bid for 50035 based on it being in better overall condition and in April 1991 we were advised our bid had been successful. 50035 was lying at Old Oak Common Depot and with an open weekend planned there in the August, we had the perfect opportunity for a handover ceremony and we were honoured when Chris Green agreed to officiate. Rather than be based on a heritage railway, we had initially agreed to base ourselves at St Leonard’s Railway Engineering so that the locomotive could be kept under cover.
One Becomes Three!
British Rail released more 50s for sale in the autumn of 1991. We examined all of those offered for sale and to some surprise found 50044 Exeter to be relatively intact and so we decided to submit a bid just above scrap value essentially to purchase it as a source of spare parts. At the same time, two of our shareholders came forward with the intention to purchase one of the complete locomotives at Laira, and place it in our care. After examination and following advice from Area Fleet Manager Plymouth, Geoff Hudson, a bid was submitted for 50031 Hood. Both bids were successful and as a result in just over three years of existence we had become owners of three locomotives.
50031 was fully operational and after some minor attention in early 1992 it was offered to heritage railways for diesel events. The Severn Valley were
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50035 at Bewdley SVR 9th May 2021 (Jonathan Dunster)
keen for us to operate at their May Diesel Gala and in those days, as is the case today, their events were considered one of the highlights of the diesel preservation calendar. So thus, 50031 became the first 50 to haul a public passenger train in private ownership and although we didn’t realise at the time, another chapter was opening. Meanwhile at St. Leonards, work on returning 50035 to operational condition was well advanced. In August it was fired up for the first time, followed by 50044 in late November 1992.
Severn Valley Beckons
Over the winter of 1993, the Severn Valley Railway informed us they were willing to house both 50031 and 50044 permanently and they both arrived in May the following year. 50035 also moved to Kidderminster in September 1996, closing our five-year association with St Leonard’s depot. Having returned all three locomotives to operational condition and now based on arguably one of the best heritage railways in the country, you
50033 engine removal at Kidderminster TMD 12th June 2021 (Phil Seymour)
may be forgiven for thinking well that’s it, job done? Well, we certainly imagined so at the time, but as we soon discovered there was another chapter about to begin, on the main line! The privatisation of British Rail in 1994 had removed the barriers previously cited for preventing
preserved diesels operating on the national network. General Manager of the SVR at the time, Alun Rees, was a very keen supporter of main line steam operation and many of the railway’s steam fleet were regularly seen operating on the main line. Alun suggested to me that we might consider operating
50007 leaving Kidderminster SVR for London Victoria on June 5th with the prestigious Bellmond British Pullman (photo by the late Ian Murray)
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(Above, left) 50033 empty engine room 19th June 2021 (Jonathan Dunster) and (Above, right) 50044 on the lifting jacks Kidderminster TMD February 2020 (Jonathan Dunster)
the 50s alongside the SVR’s steam fleet on the main line. We initially selected 50044 as our candidate, quite a ‘rags to riches’ candidate given we originally only purchased it for spare parts. However, when we tested the main generator insulation readings, these were below the minimum acceptable levels and therefore our attention turned back to 50031 Hood was going to be the history maker. Controversially at the time, when 50031 was examined by the Vehicle Acceptance Body team in the Spring of 1997, they determined no overhaul work was necessary and neither were any test runs. This was purely based on the condition of the locomotive, the records that we had kept concerning all the work undertaken on it in our ownership, and the fact it was in regular use on the SVR. So with the required certification achieved, Past Time Rail Tours, agreed to promote the first train. ‘The Pilgrim Hoover’ ran on 1st November 1997 and would feature 50031 operating from Birmingham International to Plymouth and return, not a route for the fain-hearted taking in the famous Devon Banks and of course the Lickey incline on the return leg. 50031 met the task superbly and mainline Class 50 operation had returned only three and half years after the ‘final’ BR run with 50007 and 50050 on 26th March 1994. So, what next? Given the main generator insulation issues discovered with 50044 we began to look at options to have this item overhauled. During this period our relationship with the team from ‘Project Defiance’, owners of 50049 based on
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the West Somerset Railway, was growing closer with frequent exchanges of technical information and materials between the groups.
Service trains return
One thing we learned almost immediately once 50031 was back in main line condition was the unpredictability of the newly privatised railway and you never knew when or where the next opportunity might come from. By this time Cardiff Railway Company, managed by the charismatic and highly regarded Tom Clift, had reintroduced loco hauled commuter services on the Rhymney Valley line. . After a failure of the regular locomotive, Tom urgently needed a replacement – enter 50031. In a remarkable move, June 1998 saw timetabled Class 50 service trains return in South Wales and these continued for six months bringing in considerable revenue that enabled us to fund the overhaul 50044’s main generator. On the rail tour front, 50031 made a triumphant return to the Paddington – Penzance route in July 1998 and then went on to star alongside 50015, 50017 and 50044 at the ’50 event’ held at the West Somerset Railway in September.
Heavy engineering and the need for professionalism
With 50031 earning reasonable revenue throughout 1998 we considered options for the main generator overhaul needed by 50044. Ironically for an English Electric built locomotive it
50007 / 033 / 044 / 049 / 035 in action at Kidderminster SVR 5th October 2020 (Kenny Felstead)
was Brush Traction at Loughborough who provided the most comprehensive option. The task required removal of the power unit (engine + main generator) then detaching the generator from the engine and disassembling the generator for cleaning and overhaul. With two mainline registered locomotives and with continuing commitments to the SVR we never lost sight of the fact Kidderminster was our base and that supporting the SVR remained our priority. We were clear that ultimately we should pursue the aim of a proper diesel maintenance facility at the SVR but in the interim using our network of railway industry contacts we would try and make use of other suitable facilities around the country, if or when the need arose to undertake heavy engineering work on the fleet.
In late 1999, 50049 arrived at Kidderminster for the SVR diesel event and that weekend clearly demonstrated how much could be gained by the two groups working together even more closely. We agreed to stable 50049 over the winter at Kidderminster before it returned home to Williton. Ultimately fate took a hand in our strategic thinking here and the WSR decided that they didn’t need 50049 and it became homeless. We therefore decided to merge the organisations. With Project Defiance being a limited company this would provide much more
protection from liability for our shareholders. So Project Defiance was reincarnated to become “Class 50 Alliance Ltd” which would own the locomotives and undertake the commercial trading whilst The Fifty Fund would remain as support organisation to primarily focus on fundraising. By combining the skills together with materials owned by both groups, we really had all that was needed to keep the locomotives operational. All we needed now was our own depot. 50049 itself was also in very good condition and it soon returned to mainline operation alongside 031 and 044. During the early 2000s 50031 and 50049 became a regular sight working across the country on charter trains. Unfortunately in this period 50035 and 50044 suffered main generator issues and from 2004 the fitment of Train Protection & Warning System (TPWS) would become mandatory for all mainline locomotives.
Old Oak Common Return
Again, largely due to our professional approach and network of contacts across the railway industry, the opportunity arose to use the famous ‘Factory’ at Old Oak Common Depot where the facilities had been designed for diesel locomotives and were perfect for our needs. Between 2000 and 2009 this historic depot would be critical in terms of our ability to undertake engine lifts, bogie work, wheelset changes and even repaints, all largely under the direction of
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Tony Middleton. It was very fitting therefore that the final locomotive to depart from the Factory before final closure was our own 50035. All hire revenues arising from the use of our locomotives are always used to further improve the condition of our fleet. The years 2004-2006 saw some classic tours with 031 and 049 where they reached such far-flung places as Mallaig, Thurso and Ipswich on their travels. Service trains in South Wales also returned again in the summer of 2006, with a stint on Cardiff to Fishguard services operated by Arriva Trains Wales. As one chapter closed, another opened and through the late Tom Clift, we were able to relocate to another famous WR depot, this time Cardiff Canton where similar facilities were enjoyed from 2009 to 2012. . As the decade progressed further new systems became mandatory for continued operation on the main line. We decided to focus this investment onn 50044 and 50049, and keep 50031 and 50035 operational at the SVR. By 2012 there was no longer any space at Canton but we had taken the most from the opportunity including a full bogie overhaul to 50049. All our fleet returned to Kidderminster where the focus now just had to be a new diesel maintenance facility. Over the next couple of years, we really struggled to undertake major work in the open air completely exposed to the elements.
Kidderminster TMD – Realising The Dream!
Ultimately around 2013 all the ingredients came together that enabled the construction of Kidderminster TMD. A few years previously, I had been elected as a Director of the Severn Valley Railway (Holdings) Plc Board. This enabled the strategic debate to take place at an appropriate level as to the need for such a facility and of course there was a much broader case than just a base for the Class 50 Alliance fleet. During 2014, I worked alongside Paul Koch of the Diesel Traction Group and Chris Bond the SVR’s infrastructure Manager to produce the optimum design for a Diesel Depot at Kidderminster.
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Construction began in 2015 with completed building being officially opened by the Chairman of Network Rail, Sir Peter Hendy in May 2016. Appropriately, 50035 was driven in as part of the ceremony given it was the last loco to leave Old Oak Common. Four serviceable locos and now our own facilities to maintain them was how 2016 drew to a close, but then there was a surprise development to come. The owner of 50007 Hercules announced he was looking to sell the locomotive. This was an operational main line certified locomotive and therefore we were seriously interested. After inspections and the very generous support of two shareholders we purchased 50007 and it soon moved to Kidderminster. The engine was quickly removed so that the main generator could overhauled, and after just three months and 50007 entered service on the SVR. Soon we would again have a pair of Class 50s available for main line operation.
Golden Jubilee Celebration
As we entered 2018, thoughts turned to appropriate celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the Class 50s and a special gala event on the SVR was planned for October. We aimed to have as many operational 50s as possible alongside our own five and 50008/50015/50017 and 50050 were lined up with 50026 which was undergoing engine work. At this time we approached the team at Tyseley Locomotive Works to see if 50033 Glorious could at least be made available as static exhibit. They responded positively and following inspection it was clear ‘33’ could well be returned to operational condition in time. This ‘miracle’ restoration has been well documented already but quite simply could not have been achieved without the superb facilities of Kidderminster TMD. The Golden Jubilee Event has been hailed by many as the finest modern traction event ever held on a preserved railway and importantly showed how profitable a diesel event can be. 2019 saw the partnership between C50A and GB Railfreight underlining our professional approach. Who will ever forget the inaugural run of 007 and 049 in full GBRf livery on the “Terminator Phoenixed” railtourcommemorating 25 years since the final BR main line run? Not bad for a bunch of amateur enthusiasts!
This is just a small insight into the story of the Fifty Fund / Class 50 Alliance over its first thirty years. Back in 1991 many commentators speculated that 50s were too complex to be maintained by volunteer enthusiasts. History shows that with a professional approach in all areas, miracles can be achieved. In April 2021 we were pleased to become the first recipients of the newly created Heritage Railway Association award for Diesel Locomotion in recognition of ‘30 years of Class 50 Preservation excellence’. I wonder what the next development will be?
The 2874 Restoration Journey So Far (restoring ex GWR 28xx no 2874) David Holmes Trustee 2874 Trust
When I was a child it was very much still The Great Western Railway although, British Railways came into being just a year or so later. I remember well, as a fairly young child standing beside the fence at Stonehouse Burdett Road, watching the wonderful steam locomotives of the GWR or by then WR speeding by with their chocolate and cream carriages, or lumbering by, doggedly pulling a long rake of coal wagons towards London, or of course, empties in the other direction. We must also not forget the busy little 14xx on their auto trains to Chalford or Gloucester, maybe at the time one of my favourite locomotives.
My early Introduction
I was born next to the Stonehouse to Nailsworth line at Dudbridge and sometimes saw small freights run along that line on my trips out on my bike, (passenger services finished on that line in June 1947 and freight by then was intermittent). We did use to go spotting near Standish where we could see both the LMS or Midland Region and The Glorious GWR but the LMS locos never seemed to have the appeal of the GWR locos even the hardworking freight, often dirty and leaking steam, seemed to have more majesty than even a fairly clean Patriot or Jubillee and as for the 2P’s clanking along …… One class of loco which we saw a lot of back then were the hard working and eminently powerful GWR 28xx and their Collett derivatives. Dirty but oozing power and easily coping with the 90 or so loose fitted coal wagons. In February 1906, locomotive 2808 hauled a recordbreaking train from Swindon to Acton. The trainload of 107 loaded coal wagons was made up of 20 twenty ton, 6 twelve ton, 78 ten ton, 2 nine ton and 1 eight ton capacity coal wagons. Assembled at Swindon, the whole train totalled 2012 tons, including the dynamometer car and brake van. This record by a production locomotive stood during the whole steam era, surpassed only by the one-off prototype G.W.R. locomotive The Great Bear which hauled 2375 tons in 1909.
No 2874 on a goods train approaching Stratford (Brian England)
restored, to be the only inside steam pipe example of the class in operation. The loco had come from Barry via The Pontypool and Bleanavon (originally purchased by Terry Rippingale - he was one of the unsung heroes of loco preservation).
You can thus imagine my surprise and feeling of elation when, about 6 years ago, I was asked to become a trustee of The 2874 Trust, owners now of ex-GWR 28xx No 2874 and, almost certainly when
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Some of the rust damage which is going to mean a replacement
Tracey painting the first coat of a black undercoat on to the shot blasted and primed frames
Ray celebrating the pony truck coming out
The frames almost clear of the wheelsets (Below, left) Mark and Dave preparing the chassis for lifting to remove the wheels using the 100 ton hydrauic jacks
The frames with one coat of anti-corrosive paint
After many years, she then moved to Minehead having been bought by the WSR who, in turn, sold her to Dinmore Manor Locomotive. Realising the huge cost of restoration, having already restored 7820 and 3850, and in order to ensure she was safe for the future, it was agreed that a charitable trust was the best option and she was then sold to the newly formed trust (www.2874trust.org.)
angle and hand rails have been incorporated into the new cab.) The colour she was back in 1918, and will be when restored, was unlined GWR Chrome Green - no not black! Work as many of you will know is a slow process, removing rusted and seized parts, trying to preserve as many as we can either for re-use or as a pattern. Oddly enough, despite standardisation, GWR locos have some variations both between and within classes. Currently we are removing rivets in order to remove the drag box and buffer beam, both of which sadly need replacing (a cost of around £4000 for the drag box alone). All the footplates need replacing, a new floor frame has been fabricated and put in place, valve chambers have been bored out. A new stretcher has been fabricated and installed at the rear, a job that had to be done before we could even contemplate removing the drag box.
How Is Restoration Progressing
Changing the Wheels
I have no intention for regurgitating much of what is on the trust’s website, which you can read at your leisure and is regularly updated. But now to give a flavour for how we are progressing. We are restoring 2874 as closely as it is possible to do so as to when she came out of Swindon in November 1918 . Nearly all the remaining 28xx’s have been modified in some way, not least in the 1930’s by the GWR, many losing their inside steam pipes and gaining the more traditional outside variant. The cabs lost their spectacle plate windows for instance a feature now incorporated in 2874’s new cab (sadly most of the plate work was beyond salvation but the
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I should mention that when we removed 2874’s wheels we did a swap with Dinmore Manor Locomotive Ltd’s No. 3850, which had Churchward pattern and 2874 the Collett pattern. The frames and wheels were shot blasted and painted with anti corrosive paint, undercoated with 2 coats of black undercoat. The wheels then went to The South Devon Railway for new tyres, a number of new crankpins and work on the journals - also every counterweight rivet was replaced as many were found to be loose. (Thanks to Ray and his team for an excellent job). Sadly as with most things with loco restoration, the bill was, let us say, a lot more than small change.
Showing the rear dragbox, which requires replacing at an approximate cost of £4,000 (David Holmes)
Building the Skill Base
The 2874 Trust has been fortunate in that we were successful in receiving a grant £58,000 from The National Lottery Heritage fund (NLHF). The grant is based on our desire to preserve and develop heritage engineering skills within the voluntary sector using the restoration process as a training platform. We also aim to increase the diversity of our supporters and broaden the audience for heritage railways across the UK. We have developed a working relationship with South Gloucestershire College Berkeley Green site, (thanks to Rich Williams and his team) who have developed our web site (we received over 20,000 hits in the first month). We have also received grants from The Rowlands Trust, The Swire Charitable Trust, The Garfield Weston Foundation, The Pilgrim Trust and The Veronica Awdry Charitable Trust towards the wheel set work. A fundraising drive through The Big Give last December raised over £5,000 including an element of match funding by
The Reed Foundation - this will pay for work on our axle horns. A list of current work can be seen on our web site, but work progresses slowly and we may see a rolling chassis by the early to mid part of 2022. Obviously the two factors that affect the progress are the availability of volunteers - skilled, semi skilled and unskilled - and money. We have a hard core of good volunteers who are dedicated to restoring 2874 and seeing her steam again and a small cadre of the team who work tirelessly on finding funding and on money
We have an on line shop for clothing and other items, we will shortly be looking to sell items on Ebay and of course will be attending The GWSR steam Gala scheduled this year for October. Hopefully next year we will again be able to run our Heritage Skills open day when we are able to allow small groups of people behind the scenes and to see a little of what restoration and repair involves. While visitors see 2874 slowly rising form the ashes of rust and detritus I suspect many of you do not realise how much goes on behind the scenes, constantly trying to ensure we stay in the public eye, raising funds and ensuring the funds we do raise are spent in accordance with the conditions of any award. 2874 will run again but may be with more help from you she may see that day sooner than we anticipate.
Major £6m scheme to revamp Gloucester railway station begins Work on the first phase of a £6 million scheme to improve Gloucester Railway Station is about to start. The work, being carried out by Gloucestershire County Council, will see a new entrance and exit created for the rail station car park. The improvements are part of a wider scheme to revamp the rail station including making the subway fully accessible, providing better integration between buses and trains, more cycle spaces and an improved station building. The improvements are the first phase of a £6 million project by Great Western Railway and
Gloucester City Council, funded by a GFirst Local Enterprise Partnership Growth Deal, to upgrade Gloucester Rail Station.
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News from the World of GWR Modelling
In this section of the magazine, we will look at what is happening in the world of railway modelling analogue and digital - and in a range of gauges from Z-Gauge up to about 7¼ inch gauge. We will look at the people who are building model railway layouts and we will also take a look at people and companies who are servicing the needs of the model railway enthusiast. If you would like to feature your own layout, your own locomotive, carriage or wagon that you would like to show, then please get in touch. Equally, if you know of a layout, locomotive, carriage or wagon that has impressed you, again, please get in touch.
Hornby’s new P2 models
The announcement of Hornby’s new range of LNER Class P2 locomotives was without doubt one of the highlights of the 2021 range. It is always exciting to begin development on a large locomotive but to produce a class as unique as the 2-8-2 P2s is particularly so. The last development update on the P2 was provided in January along with other new range announcements. The CAD images shown featured P2 No. 2002 Earl Marischal in its later double smoke deflector guise. Since those images, the chassis of all P2s have been re-worked to introduce even more detail, and the other P2 locomotives announced, No. 2003 Lord President and new-build No. 2007 Prince of Wales have also progressed significantly.
The above renders show the latest updates to No. 2002 Earl Marischal. Changes to the chassis have included a re-work of the front bogie detail, changes to rivet detail, a re-work of the rear of the chassis to rectify an inaccuracy close to the rear steps and trailing wheel axle box, changes to the wheel faces, and a few non-cosmetic alterations designed to ensure quality Is not lost during the production process. The next two renders show the latest version of No. 2003 Lord President. Despite looking similar to the A4 and W1 Streamlined front, the P2s’ streamlined casing has its own unique geometry and a few unique details. It was often the case during this era that engineering drawings differed from the final locomotive as construction relied heavily on the skills of the workers building them. A particular feature of the original locomotives was the way the casing was formed around the cylinders which from photos appears to have resulted in different cases on each unique locomotive. The challenge for the
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Hornby designers was to design the model in such a way as to reflect an idealised pristine condition while still being faithful to the real locomotive rather than the engineering drawings. The other all new P2 locomotive announced was the new-build No. 2007 Prince of Wales (shown above) which is currently being constructed in Darlington by the same team who built the Peppercorn Class A1 Tornado. No. 2007 features many unique design variations necessary to enable it to run on today’s main lines and to enable it to share parts with Tornado, significantly simplifying
building and maintenance. These range from easily noticeable changes such as the tender design and steam generators to much subtler differences such as the reduction of beading around the smokebox to fit within the loading gauge and the introduction of storage cupboards below the driving seats. An
additional point of interest is that the locomotive features Lentz valve gear similar to that fitted to the first P2, No. 2001 Cock o’ the North. The images (above and above right) not only show the high level of detail represented in the cab, but also the attention that has been given to ensure the
cab for each locomotive is accurate. The locomotive on the left is No. 2003 Lord President while No. 2007 Prince of Wales is shown on the right featuring all of the contemporary modifications needed to meet today’s main line running requirements as well as having changes relating to the Lentz valve gear.
What about weathering?
parts wiped or touched by hands are largely shiny, the cab roof and boiler top have sooty deposits, the brake area has lumpy muck around it and the rods are also blackish with an oily sheen. Yes - all varying blacks with other hues thrown in - but all very different in texture! The same applies to track and buildings but it is really obvious on rolling stock. So - texture is important for weathering and weathering powders, used in careful combination with other approaches, will add a very important dimension, increasing the realism of all weathering jobs.
Weathering your Model Railway - locos and rolling stock, trackwork or the buildings and scenery - both takes away the “toyshop” look and, because it harmonises all aspects of the scene, it can help to create a truly realistic and “believable” result. Texture Really Matters While many choose to pick up an airbrush, that is only one aspect of weathering. Think about it… a black loco is largely black in most areas, but the smokebox is a much grainier texture than the boiler,
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DCCconcepts Weathering Powders
DCCconcepts powders are extremely fine, so they will stay where they are put. This is because the fine particles embed into the texture of matt paint with very little need for added fixatives, so the result is natural and that all-important texture is not lost with an overspray. Experiment and Learn You can experiment with confidence as most mistakes can simply be washed off with soap and water or diluted and made quite subtle with a wet or damp cotton bud. Try Different Application Methods We provide you with a range of very high quality brushes and applicators in each and every pack. Each will give you a different result. Apply with one and “brush out” with another. Experiment with different tones and using different application methods. Work the powders into the crevices - and clean off parts that would not see much heavy weathering - for example handrails and walkways or perhaps loco buffer beams where grime remains around rivets whilst the red is relatively clean. Try dampening cotton buds or applicators with water or gentle thinners and drag the powders to show how the dirt flows on the real thing because of weather. You could also try using other stuff such as lowcost eye makeup as a fixative base as it can contain oils to help the makeup colours stick - and add our powders on top. Even dilute PVA or very thin varnish may give you a useful surface to work with! Remember, as you work - texture matters a lot - for example frame or driving wheel areas on the chassis that are close to brakes can be caked with muck, so how about dabbing a little glue on first, adding powders whilst it is still damp for a “lumpy” look!
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Preservation The powders are all ultra-fine, so they can actually bed into the paint with no real need of overspray to fix them. However, if you must use a fixative, add it first, not later. You could consider a thin spraying with 5 to 10% varnish, 90 to 95% thinners before you apply them, followed by a later reworking with brushes or cotton buds dampened with thinners. Do go gently if you do this. It’s easier to add more than remove too much! Once weathered, handle things carefully. No matter what you do, weathered surfaces by any method will always be worn away by too many fingers! Finally, read and research. There are many great weathering guides out there to read! Thank you to Iron Horse Railways for these fantastic images showing the results that can be obtained using DCCconcepts Weathering Powders.
NEW* Weathering Set - Super Value Pack
You asked - we listened! Sometimes you wanted to buy multiple weathering powder packs, but did not want the repeated colours which resulted. So - we created our Super Value Pack! • Every powder colour in our entire range in one Super Value Pack! • An outer package which is super-rigid so it can also be used as a mixing palette! • Selection of super-high quality applicator brushes!
Locomotive and Wagon Weathering
This pack contains all the colours you’d find most useful when weathering wagons and locos. From creating rust areas to general grime you’d find on a well used wagon.
DCW-TRK - Weathering Set Track and Environs
The weathering of trackwork is often neglected, but it adds a lot to the realism of the layout as it harmonises the entire scene. This pack contains all the colours you’ll find useful to weather the track & surrounding areas.
that no matter what system you use for controlling your trains this will work perfectly! DC, DCC, AC, 3-rail – all are compatible with this amazing system! All you need to add is some wire to take the control circuit around your layout! Take a look at the diagram below to see how easy the pack is to connect together!
DCW-MIX - Weathering Set - Infrastructure
As with all modelling, look at (and photograph) the prototype - if you can, observe it directly, subject to safety and trespass rules! This pack is ideal for weathering buildings and other infrastructure around your layout.
DCW-GLW - Weathering Set - Layout/General
Don’t forget the season that your model is set in either, tints and colours in winter are often darker due to moisture. Mould and muck also increase when things are wet! This pack contains the four most useful colours to weather your layout and scenic areas.
DCCconcepts Ultimate Turnout Control Pack The ultimate turnout control pack contains everything you need to motorise and control 12 turnouts on your layout. The contents of this pack create a separate control circuit (or “bus”) for the turnout motors, meaning
The contents of your pack are: 1x Alpha Central Integrated 12-Way Switch (DCD-AEC) 1x Alpha DCC Power Bus Driver (DCD-SNX) 1x 12v Power Supply (DCP-12.3) 1x 12-Pack of Cobalt iP Digital Turnout Motors (DCP-CB12DiP)
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The Essence of Swindon Mark Wilson I think we all wish we had a time machine just to go back to the times we remember and even further back to before we were born, this especially applies to railway enthusiasts, I think, to the hey days of steam/diesel traction and in my case the iconic diesel hydraulics. As this is not technically possible the only way I can even attempt time travel is to create a model of an historical subject. When Rodney, the editor, contacted me via a reply to a Facebook post relating to one of my model picture updates to see if I would be willing to write an article on my attempts on my current modelling subject and a background story, I can honestly say that it took me by surprise and I did think twice about replying. Writing an article is not something I have attempted before so I hope some of you find this interesting as it does lie at the heart of the Great Western Railway.
I have been modelling railways many years on and off with mostly unsuccessful or unfinished projects with life getting in the now and again. I find as with most modellers I have met that we have many plans and a lot of enthusiasm as we set out on new layouts only to find that the interest wains over time and it just doesn’t turn out as well as it was in our minds. Born in 1970, I grew up about 30yards away from a railway embankment which my bedroom overlooked, unfortunately the trees were quite
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dense but I could still see the shapes and hear the sounds which started my interest at around seven years old. My latest project and one which I hope you will like is based on Swindon Works. I am not what they call a rivet counter and definitely no expert. I do not go into the finest of details, for instance making sure the locos liveries exactly match the month portrayed in the photograph or that the head codes displayed on the models are correct. It’s not that I do not disrespect the knowledge of some enthusiasts as the comments I receive regarding details are usually extremely helpful in gaining knowledge and I do change details that I can from the feedback.
The Essence of Swindon
The diorama is called the “Essence of Swindon” as its just what it says on the tin if you pardon the pun. I wanted to build an instantly recognizable model of the buildings but not an exact replica which is mainly down to time and space constraints.
The Diorama is 5.2ft long x 1.3ft wide (1600mm x 400mm) in OO gauge, it will run on a switchable DC or DCC power supply when complete as its around 85% finished. I started it in November 2020 and hope to have it all done by the end of July 2021. When it is complete it will represent a very small section of Swindon Works in the final 25years, the early 60s through to the mid-eighties. So sorry steam fans the glory years will at present not be represented but never say never, it’s just the fact that I don’t own any or know enough about the steam years to be able to show this aspect of the Works.
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I have attempted to model the exterior of the AE shop, if I have that termination correct. The area was close to the Swindon to Bristol main line As I understand it this was the area where locomotives were rolled out for some final checks, odd jobs that needed finishing, tinkering and possibly fuelling and lubricants. I believe that locos would not be started up and left running in the work shop due to the obvious exhaust fume issues which makes sense.
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A diorama like this is ideal if you like collecting model locomotives and you don’t have the space to run full length trains of up to 12 carriages. I also think that, although it’s not a busy scene, it does provide many interesting cameos of the more mundane but very important tasks performed by a workshop. A little bit on my background that eventually has links to what I model which is slightly surprising as I have lived in the Midlands all my life. The line on the embankment I mentioned earlier outside my bedroom window ran between Birmingham and Leicester. As I grew up, I used on occasional Saturday mornings when pocket money allowed to travel from my local station Nuneaton up to Birmingham New
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Street platform 5, book in my carrier bag along with the standard jam sandwiches and bottle of rola cola pop.
This still does not explain why I have modelled a GWR Stronghold. Well, while spotting at New Street, the most interesting and exciting trains for me were the services to and from the South West in the hands of the class 47’s and 50’s. While spending a mis-spent youth on those platforms, the older spotters reminisced about stories and passing round pictures of the hydraulics that were displaced by the 50’s. I was hooked and have been ever since, Westerns, Hymeks, Warships, and all the other smaller groups of hydraulic locomotives. As we know they were very well suited to and designed for the work they were required to do, some more reliable than
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others. Although I missed out on these magnificent machines I spend as much spare time as I can on preserved lines behind Hydraulic power when I can. So that’s how we arrive at my time machine diorama and I must admit that I hang my head in shame having never visited the site before closure. I did manage to go to the area in the mid-90’s when it had opened some areas to a retail park with housing developments on the horizon. I still took a great interest in spotting how some of the history on the site had been preserved within the shopping centre, I thought it had been done very well, although some, I imagine may disagree but least even if it’s a conversation point for the generations that visit then its memory will survive.
The Present Day
Fast forward to 2020 and my son who was 21 went there during a shopping trip and sent me back
pictures of details that had been improved since I had last visited. That was enough to spark my modelling urge to build a little bit of history. Could I bring it back to a standard where enthusiasts would recognize it at a glance…? This led me to an internet shopping spree of books old and new and rail print photograph’s that I pay a small amount for. I have listed some of the books at the end of this article. With the social media side, I also joined the “Swindon Works – End of The Line” face book group just to try and find and details of the inside and outside of the buildings I was modelling.
Keeping my head down just reading articles and very interesting posts as I felt like an intruder. How wrong I was, being one of the best decisions I made during this build. It turned out to be an unexpected and invaluable resource. When I finally plucked up the courage to ask a question, I not only had answers back but unpublished photos with detail that only the men that worked on the site would know. Not only did I get my answers it then sparked extremely and fascinating conversations between ex-employees, it was great for me and them, I think. Back to the model, to be honest it’s not a very interesting track plan, 3 straight lines out of A shop with another 3 dead end tracks inside that are serviced by an imaginary traverser as I ran out of space, but I may extend the diorama in the future. I will be adding another removable front section soon with a couple of tracks so that I can have locomotives shown against the main building wall where they did seem to loiter. As with most of my builds - and I would imagine a lot of modellers do the same - we start small then it just grows and gets out of control. The plan was to keep it small with just the outside exterior face
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of the AE building so the locomotives could sit just outside the doors. Then I thought well if I take this to exhibitions then I will need the locos to appear emerging from the exit doors and it would be a good area to swap locos without them being seen. I then studied the internal building behind the doors and my interest grew and grew, I thought well
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what about a bit of A shop? Then, over Christmas 2020, I thoought what about modelling one of the wonderful 100-ton cranes powered by two Ransoms and Rapier of Ipswich motors. Yes, that’s how I spent Christmas day at the modelling table, with lockdown 2 in place I had nowhere to go anyway, so why not.
One layout board then quickly turned into two and so on… I am actually not that good at making things up when modelling buildings and landscapes. I call myself a modelling cheat as I have to copy reality and only then do they seem to turn out slightly convincing.
Putting My Background to Use!
Working in manufacture myself for the same company over 35 years I have seen with my own eyes the way that a building can evolve over short periods of time, walls are knocked out, buildings are extended, etc. So, with nearly 150years on the Swindon site, I can only imagine the changes that were made. Another benefit I have is seeing the cables the pipes the electrical distribution boards, waste bins, tool chests, notice boards etc, etc, etc on a daily basis so I am honed in on the details, I suppose. Swindon being on a much bigger scale though, one funny comment that is repeated from
the ex-employee’s group is that my model floor is far too clean!
Modelling 25 Years of Life in Swindon Works
As mentioned previously, the period modelled is over 25 years so, as well as changing the locomotives with their liveries, external changes also happened. Two large fuel tanks appeared, chimneys disappeared, the timber doors were replaced with roller shutters. All these items need to be modelled so that they are removable and interchangeable, dependent on the period, which adds to the planning and the time it takes. All the buildings have removable section sides, roofs and rear viewing panels, so I can take pictures inside the buildings from many different angles. On the inside of the A shop building, I needed to give the impression of the vast Cathedral style expanse in a very small space so I had two options.
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To call my local Time Lord and borrow his Tardis or use mirrors to the rear and the righthand side, I opted for the mirrors which are 3mm thick plastic so can be cut to shape. The buildings themselves are made from various thicknesses of card covered in printed blue, red and painted white brick paper. Even the weathered roof tiles are printed paper from Scalescenes, other materials used were plastic sections/rods, girders, laser cut MDF windows most materials being cut to shape following photographs and book pictures. The main building windows were not readily available to the size required so I had to make these from scratch counting the bricks to work out the rough size. The windows above the AE entrance are hinged so I can prop them open as I had noticed that these were open in some pictures. The model pictures I have taken from the inside of A shop show the number of small details that
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have gone into the model. From buckets, paint tins, tools, benches, cupboards, pallets, oil drums, trollies, fire extinguishers, the list is endless. A lot of these were either bought as 3d printed models that needed painting or MDF lasered part kits which, in the last few years ,have become a lot easier to buy. I find a lot of enjoyment scanning over photos to pick out as many details as I can, it is surprising when you look over these initially and take a look again some days later, the items that you can miss.
The Weigh House
The other building on the diorama that the locos can enter or exit is the weigh house, the building that they would use to balance the weight of the loco evenly on to the bogie wheel sets. This obviously helped prevent wear and tear, the locos were weighed to ensure the correct axle loading to a given tolerance across the axle of the bogie and each bogie totalling the correct vehicle weight apparently…like I’m an expert!
The information on the weighing came from members of the Ex-Swindon employees’ site who have helped me throughout this build. The weigh house was just set to be a building externally based on the structure that still stands today repurposed into a restaurant, which I really must pay a visit to now, I think. Its modelled slightly in the wrong position but that was due to the space restraints. Upon modelling it I found a few pictures, one with quite a large subway staircase which seemed to disappear under the structure. From this I assumed it was to gain access to a pit or to a weigh scale maybe but again the Ex-Employees helped me out with some very interesting information and personal photographs. Some of you may know that the stair case went under the weigh house to a myriad of tunnels, turning right under the front of A shop to Redcliffe Street. Then turning left through a dog leg right to Dean Street with stairs up to a small watchman’s hut then through a gate to the apprentice school.
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Other members have mentioned they used it from the apprentice school to the canteen every day. These tunnels carried steam pipes and telephone lines - far easier than digging up paths etc to maintain them. I had many recollections of the tunnel use by lots of members that bought back a lot of memories I can imagine. It just blew me away that people were quite happy to help with the details. Then we come to the inside. Again, I was not planning to model this but once I saw the photos, I had to try my best to model the weighing equipment and the pits. These included the timber wall and glass structure that separated the engineers from the locos. More information came flooding in allowing me to re-create what once were the six weighing machines, for instance, made by Henry Pooley and Sons 1930. Six, since these matched the wheel arrangement of the GWR steam locomotives. In one instance ,I posted photos to receive some great comments, one being the fact that I had missed the Foreman’s office by the main front window so I set to a make a model of it. Apparently, some workers would lock themselves away on weekday nights on time and a half pay… Its all the stories and recollections of the works that have turned this model into a time machine. I think, it’s the most enjoyable project I have produced to date because of this. I initially bought Lima OO gauge warships and Western locomotives from a well-known auction site fairly cheaply, I would then detail these up adding etched numbers and nameplates. A few paper clips made up the air hoses then weathered them using paints and weathering powders. As these are fairly cheap, I have bought a few non-runner items that I cut up removing roof panels and opening up head code boxes so they look like they are under maintenance. At some point, I want to model the 100ton crane lifting a Western body shell. I suppose, in the future, I could make the crane actually operate. During the current unfortunate situation, I have
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actually saved money on petrol through not going to watch football games with Leicester City for my sins. With spare cash rattling around I have purchased what I call my “lock down locos”. More expensive but highly detailed locomotives, Bachmann Warships, Dapol Westerns and Heljan Hymeks. I’m still around a month from completion, I think, I need another section to hold a loco as it passes though the weigh house - this will become my fiddle yard. It needs a fascia pelmet with lighting and a black curtain to the base to give it a more professional look. I want to model the Hydraulic heyday, then the build and repair programmes but I’m also collecting maintenance of weigh cranes, EMUs and BR blue diesels classes 03s, 08s, 25’s 40’s 45’s as I have pictures in the later years of the work that was performed keeping Britain’s railways running. A few thank yous to the members of the ExSwindon End of the Line employees too many to mention but particularly Jack Haywood, Martin Evenett, Ken Goodwin, Ron Bateman.
Main Books used:
Swindon Works through Time – Andy Binks and Richard Timms Swindon Rail Scene – Hydraulics to HST’s – Gary Stroud The End of The Line – Ron Bateman The Great Western At Swindon Works – Alan S.Peck Great Western Steam – Brian Morrison
A Visit to Tunnel Close Clive Burchell My interest in trains has been a life long hobby. I was born into trains as my dad had an OO garden railway called "DAVENTRY GARDEN RAILWAY" which he started in 1969. Dad had trains running every month with the layout open to the public and I became the operator of the controls with him. I had a N gauge layout in my bedroom which would occupy my time. This was sold when I moved out. My Dad passed away in May 2015, so I decided to build another N gauge layout in his memory. I started construction in August of that year with a 7ft. by 4ft. board, which was stored under our double bed but it soon became apparent that this was not going to be satisfactory so I decided to build a 10ft. x 12ft. shed in our back garden. This soon became my Railway Hobby Room.
My New Layout
My layout is constructed on 10mm plywood with 50mm x 50mm supports underneath. I have kept to direct current (DC) as this is what I had when I was younger and I know how to wire this up. Tracklaying When I started to lay the track, I had a rough idea of what I wanted but never had a track plan to follow. The track is Peco code 80 flexitrack and mostly medium radius points. I was undecided whether to use Peco underlay but when I realised how expensive it would be I then thought about using cork as a base for the track. I asked the question on a Facebook group and was told there was no point using underlay or cork as it would lift the track higher and make no difference to quietening the sound, so I decided to just put the track straight onto the plywood, drilling holes in the sleepers and pin the track down. Eventually I would glue and ballast but not until I was completely happy with the laying and positioning of the track.
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Simple Starting Point I started with two main lines all round with two storage loops and five sidings. I bought a Gaugemaster model Q controller, which controls four tracks, so I decided to change the two storage loops into another two main running lines. The track layout changed again when I decided to add two bays on the inner road. My layout had many alterations and changes over a 12-month period until I was happy with the track layout. Then started the mammoth task of ballasting it all. Many, many hours were spent glueing and ballasting but the more I did the more I was determined to finish the job. The better it looked and started to come to life. Which Era or No Era? I do not run a specific era, as I love both steam and diesel from L.M.S., GWR, LNER, SR, early BR crest,
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late BR crest and up to the 80's and 90's, which gives me a very large scope for locos, coaches and wagons to run and also means there is always stock that I want for Christmas and birthday presents.! My Layout Comes to Life As I run all era's, I do not have to model a specific year so I have a large selection of model cars from Morros Minors to Ford Cortinas, as well as horse drawn carts, I even have someone pulling a hand
cart for his friends while they are window cleaning on Tunnel Close. Also on Tunnel Close there is a family washing their classic car, another family doing house repairs who needed a skip and, if you look closer you can see a couple having a kiss while waiting for the bus. I came up with the name Tunnel Close as it is on top of the tunnel which also contains my control panel. The control panel is all handmade by me and all wired up by me, which makes it easier for me to find a fault or to add more wires and switches. The Layout Lights Up! All the houses light up from a 12-volt transformer with two wires, a red and black, trailing all around the underside of the board, a small hole is drilled into the board and the bottom of the house then a light emitting diode is pushed through this and joined to the wires. This is a very cheap way of lighting up all the houses. The streetlights are 3-volt with a resistor so they can be connected to the same 12 volt wires, the yard lights are also 3 volt connected to the 12 volt supply, two of the yard lights have blown bulbs so the workmen are up the ladder trying to fix them. An Interesting Fairground The fairground rides are made by Fuller and DAPR They are all kits, the Fuller kits are now
discontinued but look fantastic when made, the big wheel was the hardest kit to make up and the most expensive as when you buy the kit you then have to buy the motor and lighting kit. The DAPR kits are 3D printed kits with a 12-volt motor. I have painted the rides and added people to give a better effect. They are powered by a 12-volt controller under the board so the speed is adjustable. The helterskelter, ghost train and 3 small stalls are card kits, but I did put lights in them to give a better effect. I also have hot air balloon rides for people to have a ride in and get a lovely view of the trains and the village.
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Plenty of Village Life! The village is made from Metcalfe card kits, they are made by my lovely wife Sarah as she enjoys making them. Sarah also constructed the farm with the horses, pigs, cows, sheep, bulls, a couple of goats and a dog. The farm is named Hill Top farm as it is on top of the hill. With many building, farm vehicles and many people doing their daily jobs it is a busy place. On the other side of the road is Karen's cafe named after my late sister who also had a cafe in my Dad's OO garden railway village. There is a play area for the kids with slide and climbing frame and a caravan and camping site with 3 lodges overlooking the village. The Children Enjoy Life! As you travel down the road into the village you come to the local pub and garden centre, across the road is the village school where the kids are having playtime in the playground and on the playing field the local cricket team are having a match. Travelling along the road you come to the T-junction which leads you down to the train station. The station is named Kazaura which is an anagram of my late sister Karen and her daughter Laura. Kazaura was Karen's and Laura's dog breeder’s name. The station has many lights as well as two lit clocks bought by my wife one Christmas, the station’s loading area is as busy as always with
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lorries coming and going The platform is handmade as I was unable to find the right size with space for two bays. It is made with a piece of wood bolted to the board with plastic glued on top and block paving effect card glued to this. The canopies are kits joined together to cover the full length. The station building is a Metcalfe kit which again was made by my wife Sarah. Business is Thriving! Station Road has a few houses and the local corner shop selling food, groceries and fresh fish that has just been delivered. Travelling along the road brings you to the other corner shop selling everything from your monthly railway magazine to a hammer to knock your nails in with. Opposite the corner shop is Clive's Auto's named after me as I am a qualified panel beater and paint sprayer and always wanted to own my own garage. Next to the garage is the church where the wedding of James and Sophie is taking place and round the back the funeral of Berti. Travelling up the hill past the bus stop you come to the bridge which takes you out of the village. There seems to be a lot of police vehicles there as someone has decided to climb up onto the bridge wall, unsure whether he is going to jump or just watch the trains passing beneath him.
Great Western Star Summer 2021